“Every man prays in his own language, and there is no language that God does not understand.”
-Duke Ellington

Good morning friends,

On this Mother’s Day morning, we share with you a couple of pieces from Wynton Marsalis’ masterpiece, The Abyssinian Mass. Originally commissioned for the 2008 bicentennial celebration of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, this brilliant and sprawling work blends the secular and the sacred, until they become inseparable. Take a listen to Wynton, in his own words, as he describes his intent in composing this work…

Composer Wynton Marsalis and Conductor Damien Sneed talking about the history and roots of “The Abyssinian Mass : A Gospel Celebration”

The Carr Center has a very special relationship to this composition. In May 2019 we mounted a highly successful production of The Abyssinian Mass , in Detroit, for the first time ever.

That unforgettable night featured our own Geri Allen fellows, The Gathering Orchestra and an 80 voice choir of talented local singers. Guest soloist was none other than Detroit gospel legend Karen Clark Sheard and our special performance was also conducted by Maestro Damien Sneed , Carr Center Artist-in-Residence. Here now are excerpts of the original performance by the original recording artists, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Chorale Le Chateau with Damien Sneed, conducting.

Following the “responsive reading” in the standard order of a typical church service would the “Gloria Patri” (Glory be to the Father). Mr. Marsalis’ masterful arrangement of this standard verse could never be defined as traditional.

According to Damien Sneed, in Movement 7, called “Pastoral Prayer”, soloist Nicole Pfeiffer takes
on the role of an evangelist, a fiery preacher, exclaiming the gospel, in what he identified as his
favorite movement of the composition.

On this Sunday morning we hope you will take some time out, sit back and enjoy these two outstanding selections from The Abyssinian Mass: A Gospel Celebration , by Wynton Marsalis.

As it was in the beginning ,
Is now and ever shall be…
World without end
Amen, amen…
– Text from, “Gloria Patri”

Have a great week,
The Carr Center