September 29, 2020

The Wall Street Journal Reviews 'Mass for the Endangered'

"Nature has inspired a number of remarkable compositions," writes The Wall Street Journal's Barbara Jepson, "the latest in the genre is “Mass for the Endangered” by Sarah Kirkland Snider, a rising star on the American compositional scene who describes her piece as a prayer for endangered wildlife and their imperiled environments. More plea than polemic, the first recording of this riveting work...a cohesive, 44-minute work in six movements, “Mass” marries sighing vocal lines of the sort associated with Renaissance madrigals to pulsating minimalist rhythms. The music is set to Latin text from the traditional Catholic Mass combined with an evocative libretto by poet Nathaniel Bellows.

In the impressive opening Kyrie, a catchy ostinato in the piano and a slow, wistful interlude for strings pave the way toward an impassioned choral entreaty that crests and recedes like ocean waves. There is a solemn Gloria with harp and marimba accompaniment, and an ironically titled Alleluia that somberly enumerates our environmental sins. If the Credo, whose repetitive “I believe” statements elevate nature over its Creator, is the musical climax of Ms. Snider’s “Mass,” the concluding Agnus Dei is its emotional heart—elegiac and affecting."