Native American prayer and poetry, set to music in two grand works this weekend on Choral Showcase. It’s part of our ongoing “New Voices, New Recordings” series. We begin with a Mass of the Americas by Frank La Rocca, who was commissioned to write a mass celebrating unity between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Catholics in America. What unites is a devotion to the Blessed Mother, patroness of the US, as well as Mexico and Central America, where she is known as “Our Lady of Guadalupe.” La Rocca’s Mass of the Americas incorporates folk melodies and prayers from Central America within a traditional Latin mass setting. For example, one setting of the Ave Maria is sung in Nahuatl – the language of San Juan Diego, the Mexican peasant farmer who first experienced visions of Guadalupe in 1531. Our recording, released at the end of 2022, is based on the revised performance that took place in 2019 at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

Mass of the Americas

Our second work features the poetry of the First Nations of North America: Chinook, Comanche, Dakota, Inuit, Iroquois, Kwakiutl, Navajo, Ojibwa, Pueblo, Seminole, Sioux, and Yaqui. Called Circlesong, this composition by British composer Bob Chilcott reflects the circle of life, from birth to death, as well as the sun, moon, earth, and the pattern of the seasons. Written in 2003, it was revised in 2020 for this Signum Classics recording by the Houston Chamber Choir directed by Robert Simpson.

Bob Chilcott
Composer Bob Chilcott

Please join me for “Music of the Americas,” this Sunday evening at 9 on Choral Showcase.

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