About the Mass

"Palestrina has been held up as the model for high Renaissance sacred music, yet the Polyphony Weekend has never sung a Mass by him," Dr. Mahrt said, "So we will sing this Mass, drawn from his Fifth Book of Masses (1590), one of the last books of Masses published before his death.

"This is a Mass based upon the paraphrase of the Gregorian chant hymn for Matins on Pentecost, and for the hymns of the Little Office during the day of Pentecost. Its characteristic mode-one beginning and wide ranging melody makes it suitable for paraphrasing in a nicely developed style, with intricate counterpoint in full-sounding texture," he said.

"Palestrina composed 104 Masses, 46 of which were published during his lifetime, with several more being published by his sons shortly after his death. Perhaps his most famous Mass is the Missa Papae Marcelli for six voices (SATTBB), but others are well known, such as the four-voice Missa Brevis and Missa Aeterna Christi Munera, and even four Masses for eight voices.

"Our Mass is not as widely sung, but presents a work deserving of greater cultivation," Dr. Mahrt said.