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Passion Music was commissioned from Will Todd—one of the UK’s most popular choral composers—for the choirs of St Martin-in-the-Fields and continues the fusion of jazz and choral music so successfully blended in his Mass in Blue which has been performed hundreds of times all over the world. The same influences also infuse the Jazz Missa Brevis, breathing new life into the texts of the Latin Mass.
Jazz Missa Brevis
Commissioned by David Price for Portsmouth Cathedral with funds from The Groves Legacy, Will Todd’s Jazz Missa Brevis gives new life to the sung Latin Mass texts in an accessible, short setting which embraces a variety of jazz styles, from the swinging jazz waltz Kyrie to the up-beat Latin-groove Gloria. The smooth jazz ballad Sanctus, 7/8 Benedictus and soulful Agnus Dei complete this inspiring Mass setting. Underpinned by Todd’s characteristic jazz harmonies and melodic craftsmanship, it is suitable for performance both liturgically and as part of a concert by mixed choirs of all abilities. Performed here by the St Martin’s Voices and Will Todd Ensemble, the work can also be accompanied by piano alone (as written or extemporised) or jazz trio (piano, bass and drums).
Will Todd writes: 'In writing Jazz Missa Brevis for Portsmouth Cathedral Choir, I have aimed to create simple and lasting music that will work equally well in liturgy or in concert. Drawing on my own piano playing style, all of the movements began life as extended improvisations which I then honed and developed into the completed movements. I hope this ensures that there is a genuine jazz ‘heart’ to each of the sections. In the same way that I would in a jazz gig, I’ve made sure there is a contrast of rhythmic feels between the movements. I hope singers, musicians and conductors will enjoy performing this piece as much as I have enjoyed writing it!'
Included on this disc are four separate a cappella settings: God So Loved The World, I Am Changed, Tantum Ergo and What Sweeter Music. These are all recent commissions, written for choirs in the UK. God So Loved the World was commissioned for the choirs at Oakham School and is a soft, yearning setting for divisi voices. I Am Changed was written for the John Lewis Choir in 2016 with a text of my own; it follows a similar structure to my well-known carol My Lord Has Come, although this piece is in seven parts. Tantum Ergo was commissioned by St Michael’s Church in Edinburgh and is a simple four-part setting of this well-known Latin text. Finally, What Sweeter Music sets words by Robert Herrick and was commissioned by Dundee University Choir in 2015.
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