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Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass Comes to Meramec May 7

May 02, 2011

Robert Ray's Gospel Mass  
Robert Ray's Gospel Mass

Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass, featuring composer and guest conductor Robert Ray, comes to Meramec for a performance May 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Meramec Theatre, 11333 Big Bend Road.

Ray will conduct the Meramec Orchestra, Concert Choir and Chamber Singers in a performance of the iconic work in its 30th-anniversary year. Soloists include Sylvia Ray and Duane Foster. Over 100 student performers will be onstage for this concert.

The concert also will feature the Meramec Chamber Singers performing a set from their recent tour. Their program, entitled “Love and Lamentation,” includes works by W. A. Mozart and Rene Clausen, among others.

Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass was composed in 1978. Its premier performance was sung by the University of Illinois-Urbana Campus Black Chorus. It was written while Ray was a liturgy team member of the National Office of Black Catholics. The Gospel Mass was created out of a need from these workshops.

The Gospel Mass has become a standard part of the choral repertoire and is performed by churches, colleges, universities, orchestras and civic choral groups nationally and internationally.

Gospel Mass is Ray’s interpretation of 2,000 years of liturgical tradition with the more contemporary music of the African-American Church. For centuries, composers have taken the text of the Ordinary of the Mass and given it musical settings. Each setting creates within the listener a different feeling about the worship experience.

“It is my desire to combine centuries of old traditions of Mass settings with sounds of the contemporary Black Church," Ray said. "The move from Latin to English created new opportunities for composers to express their feelings about the texts of the Ordinary of the Mass. I wanted everyone to experience the sense of joy and celebration that is generally felt in true African-American worship.”

Admission is free. For more information, call 314-984-7639 or email meramecmusic@stlcc.edu. If you need an accommodation due to a disability, call 314-984-7639 at least two working days prior to the event.