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Missa omnibus sanctis : a setting of the Ordinary of the Mass

by Ralph Middenway (1960)

Work Overview

A quartet of soloists is set against a choir in up to seven parts. Often the soloists music is polyphonic, generally the choral music is homophonic.

The text is the ordinary of the Latin mass.

The harmonic idiom is flexible: sometimes a solo vocal line cuts loose from its harmonic milieu; sometimes four vocal lines seem to cut loose from one another; sometimes chords in the upper voices cut loose from the lower voices; sometimes the harmonies are bald, almost mediƦval.

The overall aim is to reflect the ever-changing mood of the text. When performed it is well received. Critic/musicologist Roger Covell memorably referred to the idiom as combining 'fire and frost'.

Work Details

Year: 1960

Instrumentation: Soprano, alto, tenor, bass soloists, SSAATTB choir.

Duration: 14 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Some rather elaborate bitonality, and some exposed passages for soloists.

Contents note: Kyrie -- Gloria -- Credo -- Sanctus -- Agnus dei.

Dedication note: Dedicated to Jean and Peter Platt, two of the most lovable people I have ever met

First performance: by Peter Platt — Great Hall, University of Sydney, 1950s

There is some family resemblance with the later 'Lamentations of Jeremiah', but the mood is quite different.

The Sanctus and Benedictus were performed in the Great Hall in the mid-50s. Next came the Kyrie eleison, Gloria and Agnus Dei, and together with the Sanctus and Benedictus were performed during the 1960 Adelaide Festival. The last section, Credo, followed and the whole mass was performed soon afterwards, again in the Great Hall. Peter Platt conducted on each occasion.

Revised version (2010) is for Jean Platt, and in memory of Peter.

In the mid-1950s Peter Platt asked for a piece for the Pro Music Choir at Sydney University. This was my first 'real' piece. It took an age to complete, for I was decidedly finding my way.


Performances of this work

Unknown date: Great Hall, University of Sydney, 1950s. Featuring Peter Platt.

1960: Elder Conservatorium, as part of the Adelaide Festival. Featuring Peter Platt.

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