Presenting a classical-music-based mass at a Sunday service may be nothing new. But when First Parish in Wayland presents Paul Winter’s Missa Gaia at its 10 a.m. service on March 26, attendees will hear an exciting, jazz-inflected interpretation of the centuries-old musical form. Anyone is welcome to attend, and it is suitable for children.
Missa Gaia translates as “Earth Mass,” a hint that something different is in store. The piece was developed by Paul Winter, a jazz and world music musician who has won seven Grammy awards. It weaves haunting, yet beautiful recorded calls of wolves, whales, a harp seal, and a loon through the 20-minute performance. The First Parish choir and soloists will be accompanied by a band of Boston-area professional classical and jazz musicians, rather than by an orchestra.
Missa Gaia was commissioned by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, where the first performance took place. First Parish first performed the piece in 2016. A soaring saxophone takes its cue from prerecorded wolf pack calls introducing the piece, while piano, guitar, drums, and percussion provide rhythms from West Africa and Brazil.
The following guest musicians will perform:
Dan Foote is one of the most sought-after percussion instructors and players in New England. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Berklee College of Music.
Cellist Cynthia Forbes performs in New England area ensembles and orchestras, and has appeared as soloist with Boston Virtuosi, New England String Ensemble, and Syracuse Camerata and other ensembles.
Joseph Halko has performed throughout the Northeast with various ensembles and is principal oboist with the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra. He performed with Andrea Bocelli during one of the tenor’s U.S. tours.
Michael Leonard is one of the world’s foremost concert saxophonists. Since the age of 22, Michael has served as an orchestral saxophonist for the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops Orchestras.
Classical guitarist Catherine O’Kelly performs throughout New England, both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. She is currently finishing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in classical guitar performance.
Bass player Charlie McCauley performs regularly with The Concord Orchestra and has performed at First Parish in Wayland on many occasions.
Twice a year, First Parish presents a Music Sunday open to the public. Each Music Sunday event features a major musical work. The March 26 service will last for about one hour.
More information (including parking guidance) is available at www.uuwayland.org or call 508-358-6133. First Parish is located at 225 Boston Post Rd. in Wayland, at the intersection of routes 20 and 27.
Photo credit: Анатолий Чесноков on Unsplash