Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Final Tracks: Mass for Our Lady

The last 48 hours were quite a blur, with one very important set of milestones: Michele and I headed to Chicago yesterday for about five important hours in AirWaves Recording Studio, home of the wonderfully talented John McCortney. After months and months of writing and editing and proofreading, the final tracks for Mass for Our Lady were laid down on guitar yesterday.

Our publisher, World Library Publications, has done a really remarkable thing with this mass setting. They've recorded it two ways: the first (side A, if you will), in a "cathedral" style, with organ, brass, handbells and four-part choir. The second style was more "parochial," and this was recorded with piano, strings, flute, choir and guitar. The fact that this new mass setting can move in both directions, using the instruments in various combinations, is, in my mind, a real testament to what we hope will lead to both integrity and longevity.

I'm here in John's studio laying down the tracks. Over the past week, the WLP singers and ensembles were conducted by one of Chicago's great church musicians, Paul French, Director of Music at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and the Director of the William Ferris Chorale. Paul and crew laid down all the vocal and instrumental tracks, sans the acoustic guitar. It was my job to listen carefully to all these performances and match the guitar to Paul's great conducting.

What a great thing to play this score, following along with the masterful interpretation by Paul! It was so easy to anticipate his every nuance.

Now, after two and a half years, we are on the last lap of production. This week, the final, full score of Mass for Our Lady came back from the printers, and is in distribution to the parishes who'd placed advanced orders. And it's just in time for Easter!

You'll also see, in the above pictures, my new pride and joy: a custom-designed and built Martin Grand Performance acoustic/electric guitar, which arrived just weeks ago (I'd ordered it in early September). The timing couldn't have been more perfect, arriving just before this recording session. The Martin Company did a beautiful job of creating an instrument for me that will complement the great work of the Notre Dame Folk Choir's rich set of voices.

Very little is left to do by way of this enormous project. My superb collaborator and friend, Karen Kirner, and I are looking at a complementary collection of Gospel Acclamation verses – ones for the entire set of Lectionary readings – to be a companion to this mass setting. But other than that, we can now look back on an amazing amount of work. And maybe, like our Creator after the end of a long period of work, we can look back and call it good.


  1. This is terrific! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I've been awaiting my copy for ages--I am so excited!