Friday, October 20 - 2017
For the Fall Concert, Duke Chapel Vespers Ensemble is led by their new director, Dr. Philip Cave, in a program entitled "Ancient & Modern." The concert features two settings of the Mass, one from the 16th century, and one from the 20th.
This concert is free and open to the public. Parking will be available for $5 in the Bryan Center Parking Garage at 125 Science Drive. ADA parking will be in the Bryan Center Surface Lot. Duke parking permit holders may enter through the bottom level of the Bryan Center Parking Garage for free on weekdays after 5:00 p.m. and on weekends.
The Missa brevis by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1525-1594) was published in 1570, and is an exquisite example of classic renaissance polyphony. Most of the mass is scored quite modestly for four parts; just three voices sing the Benedictus; and Palestrina adds a fifth voice in the final "Agnus Dei" that enables more sumptuous writing, and is a masterful example of the composer's style. 400 years later, William Walton (1902-1983) composed his Missa brevis. It calls for an 8-part choir and organ, but is very concise. Walton does not set the Creed, and text repetition is kept to a minimum.
Walton's exploration of contrapuntal textures complements Palestrina's style, but in a much more contemporary idiom. Some striking dissonances and lively rhythmic writing illustrate and project the text and mood of each movement. At the time of its composition, many British churches had adopted the idea of placing the Gloria at the end of the service as a flourish of praise and thanksgiving, and Walton's addition of the organ certainly lends a festive flair.