Mass for the Endangered

2018

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Program Note:

Commissioned by Trinity Wall Street as part of their “Mass Re-Imaginings” Project, Mass for the Endangered is a hymn for the voiceless and the discounted, a requiem for the not-yet-gone. Using original text by writer, visual artist, and musician, Nathaniel Bellows, in combination with the traditional Latin, Mass for the Endangered embodies a prayer for endangered animals and the imperiled environments in which they live. Written for SATB choir and twelve instruments, the six-movement piece appeals for parity, compassion, and protection, from a mindset—a malignance or apathy—that threatens to destroy the planet we all are meant to share.

  1. Kyrie
  2. Gloria
  3. Alleluia
  4. Credo
  5. Sanctus/Benedictus
  6. Agnus Dei
January 22, 2022

Van Magazine

Always a bit otherworldly and ethereal, Snider’s music gives in to each of the four elements, both at different points throughout the Mass and, occasionally, within the same movement. The “Gloria” opens with a choral passage that ripples and reverberates like a lake receiving a stone, and is soon met with a male chorus far more tethered to earth, perhaps in the same zone of suffering as Schubert’s Wanderer. An ebb and flow of strings at the beginning of the subsequent “Alleluia” flickers like a candle struggling to hold onto its flame. Perhaps the liminal upper choral registers of the concluding “Agnus Dei” are providing the breeze. The movement I’ve turned to over and again with “Mass for the Endangered” is the penultimate “Sanctus-Benedictus,” which hears Snider’s vocal textures vacillate most acutely between the ecumenical and the earthy. At certain points, it feels like a trail that has been tread for centuries—witness Britten’s choral writings, informed by the traditions from the era of Mary, Queen of Scots, or even Mendelssohn’s comparatively grander choral work in “Paulus.” But even more apparent on this relisten is the connective tissue between Snider and Price, who both work at times with the same American musical lexicon. It creates familiar ground and deep twilight; the ideal vantage point to find a moment of stillness, or perhaps a beginning."

Olivia Giovetti
June 17, 2021

Southbank Centre Blog

"This ravishing album came to my attention during some of the most disconcerting times of lockdown last year. A sumptuous, but gloriously judged new setting of the Mass, [Mass for the Endangered] caresses, haunts, and illuminates the listener with its tender melodies, and a harmonic language that grasps you smoothly yet firmly." -- Six Things I've Heard I Couldn't Live Without

Colin Currie
December 21, 2020

NPR Deceptive Cadence

"Snider must be recognized as one of today's most compelling composers for the human voice." ('Mass for the Endangered', Top Ten Albums of 2020)

Tom Huizenga
December 18, 2020

The Nation

"Snider performed a kind of miracle and created a work that honors the format’s tradition while sounding vitally fresh and evokes the sacred in the service of the secular. [Mass for the Endangered is] a gorgeous, moving piece.” (Top Ten Albums of 2020)

David Hajdu
December 16, 2020

The Arts Fuse

[Mass for the Endangered] proves a striking piece, at once unsettling and beautifully direct…a touching and haunting effort, not to mention a timely one.”

Jonathan Blumhofer
November 26, 2020

BBC Music Magazine

Snider’s lucid score [for ‘Mass for the Endangered’] is at once powerful and delicate…[with] striking harmonies, imaginative use of texture [and] counterpoint that is as intricate and exquisite as a spider’s web. This a luminous and arresting disc that conveys its urgent ecological message with power and beauty.”

Kate Wakeling
November 1, 2020

Opera News

"'Mass for the Endangered’ is musically penetrating and textually provocative…On one level, [it] is a requiem for the natural world…But Snider’s colorful music, while not shying away from the pain of this realization, is, at heart, optimistic, offering a sliver of hope that we may yet save what’s left.” (Critic's Choice)

Joanne Sydney Lessner
October 19, 2020

WQXR

"[Mass for the Endangered's] ethereal choruses and spine-tingling textures, sung brilliantly by the British ensemble Gallicantus, make for challenging but engrossing listening — perfectly fragile music for increasingly fragile circumstances." (Latest/Greatest Releases, October 2020)

Zev Kane
October 16, 2020

The Boston Globe

"American composer Sarah Kirkland Snider adapts the ancient contemplative template of the Catholic Mass to honor and mourn for a burning planet and its wildlife...This premiere recording [of 'Mass for the Endangered] hands the piece to the luminous British choir Gallicantus." ("10 Reasons to Keep Falling for Classical Music")

Zoë Madonna and Jeremy Eichler
October 13, 2020

New York Magazine/Vulture.com

"A contemporary sensibility pierces an antique haze in Sarah Kirkland Snider’s elaboration of the liturgical text, with a libretto by Nathaniel Bellows. There’s a mournful intensity to [Mass for the Endangered], performed by vocal ensemble Gallicantus."

Justin Davidson
September 28, 2020

National Public Radio, All Things Considered

"Arresting…[Mass for the Endangered] shines with multi-layered singing of uncommon beauty…Snider asserts her own musical personality as a composer who knows instinctively how to write for the human voice...Through her smart and resplendent exploration of age-old musical formulas, Snider's eco-inspired Mass for the Endangered is a blast from the past that resonates profoundly in the present.”

Tom Huizenga
September 28, 2020

NPR All Things Considered

"Arresting…shines with multi-layered singing of uncommon beauty…Snider asserts her own musical personality as a composer who knows instinctively how to write for the human voice. Through her smart and resplendent exploration of age-old musical formulas, Snider's eco-inspired 'Mass for the Endangered' is a blast from the past that resonates profoundly in the present.”

Tom Huizenga
September 25, 2020

The New Yorker

"Expressively interpreted by Gallicantus, an English choral ensemble, and captured beautifully in a recording jointly released by New Amsterdam and Nonesuch, ['Mass for the Endangered'] proclaims Snider’s technical command and unerring knack for breathtaking beauty."

Steve Smith
September 25, 2020

The Wall Street Journal

“Sarah Kirkland Snider, a rising star on the American compositional scene … describes ['Mass for the Endangered'] as a prayer for endangered wildlife and their imperiled environments. More plea than polemic, the first recording of this riveting work … [is] elegiac and affecting.”

Barbara Jepson
September 25, 2020

The San Francisco Classical Voice

[In Mass for the Endangered], Snider summons from her forces a lustrous wonder... By turns diaphanous and urgent, exultant and wary, the music both immerses us in this perilous era and stirs us to examine our collective conscience… Snider and Bellows’s collaboration is a meeting of questing, unsettled minds.”

Steven Winn
September 25, 2020

Seen and Heard International

"Snider’s Mass is embedded with the mysticism, sonorities, and spaciousness found in church music throughout the ages that imbue it with a sense of timelessness. What’s more, it sounds, feels, and sings like a Mass, resulting in music that is not only beautiful, but fit for liturgical purposes."

Rick Perdian
September 24, 2020

The New York Times

"As with Snider’s past works, the surface details of 'Mass for the Endangered'] can be quickly identified as mellifluous and engaging. But there are additional levels to enjoy...This emphatic articulation of purpose, sung by and for other humans, seems to be reaching beyond environmentalism and toward morality at large."

Seth Colter Walls
September 23, 2020

Limelight

"Snider re-works the mass into a requiem for the environment to spectacular effect...This most accessible and very contemporary work (which just might be the first vegan mass) is deeply grounded in earlier traditions and will be of certain interest to lovers of high-quality choral writing." ('Mass for the Endangered' 4.5 Stars, Editor's Choice)

Lisa MacKinney
August 29, 2020

AnEarful

"[Mass for the Endangered] is so sincere and eloquent in its absorption of the great masses of the past by Bach, Palestrina, etc. - and so sheerly gorgeous - that it is undeniably uplifting...sublime counterpoint and expert architecture."

Jeremy Shatan
October 8, 2019

Music City Review

“Conductor Kelly Corcoran was careful to balance the timbral distinction of the orchestration with the vocal lines, allowing the subtle colors and textures to emerge without overshadowing the singers. The dynamic strength of the entire ensemble was reserved for the work’s true tutti statements, allowing these sections to function as musical arrivals giving the work a sense of pace. Snider’s work often features timbral exchanges between the choral and instrumental voices, requiring meticulous intonation throughout a wide dynamic range...I was particularly enamored with the conclusion of the Kyrie, which featured a long sustain in the female voices that slowly faded to niente accompanied by a reverent, sparsely pulsing statement in the strings. This aesthetic gesture was revisited in a slightly different fashion to end the Agnus Dei, giving the work a sense of closure. These kinds of tapered and delicate endings can be deceptively difficult, but in both instances the ensemble was committed and convincing.”

Brad Baumgardner