Frank La Rocca: Mass of the Americas The Benedict XVI Choir, The Benedict XVI Orchestra & Richard Sparks
Label: Cappella Romana
Composer: Frank La Rocca
Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)
- Frank La Rocca (b. 1951): Mass of the Americas:
- 1Rocca: Mass of the Americas: I. El cantico del alba02:51
- 2Rocca: Mass of the Americas: II. Kyrie04:15
- 3Rocca: Mass of the Americas: III. Gloria06:01
- 4Rocca: Mass of the Americas: IV. Offertory "Ave Maria"05:27
- 5Rocca: Mass of the Americas: V. Sanctus - Benedictus03:33
- 6Rocca: Mass of the Americas: VI. Agnus Dei02:33
- 7Rocca: Mass of the Americas: VII. Ave verum corpus05:36
- 8Rocca: Mass of the Americas: VIII. Aue Maria05:47
- 9Rocca: Mass of the Americas: IX. Salve regina04:36
- 10Rocca: Mass of the Americas: X. Alma redemptoris mater03:01
- 11Rocca: Mass of the Americas: XI. Ave regina cælorum03:55
- 12Rocca: Mass of the Americas: XII. Regina cæli03:03
Info for Frank La Rocca: Mass of the Americas
Frank La Rocca extends the genre of the festal Missa solemnis in his Mass of the Americas, a sublime setting of the Traditional Latin Mass for choir and orchestra. La Rocca weaves a rich tapestry with serene Gregorian chants, folk melodies from 18th-century regions of México, and florid praises in Nahuatl, the language spoken by Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego in 1531. Cultures past and present are joined musically as a witness to faith, hope, and reconciliation in this masterpiece of liturgical art.
Benedict XVI Choir’s début recording is sung by some of America’s finest singers, many GRAMMY®-nominated. Sung in Latin, Spanish, and Nahuatl.
William P. Mahrt, editor of the Sacred Music journal, ends his extensive essay with “Variety, ingenuity, sheer compositional skill, and liturgical suitability have made these compositions in The Mass of the Americas destined to be classics.”
Mass of the Americas was the first musical work commissioned by the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship. In 2018 His Excellency Salvatore J. Cordileone, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, noted the exact coincidence of two feasts in that year: The Immaculate Conception and the celebration of the Guadalupana, the festive observance of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This inspired him to hold a liturgical observance uniting the two traditions, honoring Our Lady under both titles. For the occasion he commissioned composer Frank La Rocca to create music for a Mass incorporating, in the manner of Renaissance paraphrase Masses, traditional Mexican melodies, especially “La Guadalupana.” He asked La Rocca to craft with music what the Franciscan friars of the Mission Era had crafted with church architecture: at once keeping with Catholic sacred traditions and reflecting contributions of local culture—both timeless and timely.
The mission of The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship is to open the door of Beauty to God. The Institute provides resources for more beautiful and reverent liturgy and seeks to renew a Catholic culture of the arts. The Benedict XVI Institute’s most recent commissions from composer-in-residence Frank La Rocca will form its next recording release, the Requiem Mass for the Homeless and Missa Sancti Juníperi Serra, honoring the founder of the California Missions.
Benedict XVI Choir and Orchestra
Richard Sparks, direction
Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Conducting & Ensembles, recently retired from the faculty at UNT in 2019 after a distinguished academic and professional career. A dedicated and passionate teacher, Sparks brings a wealth of experience to young conductors under his guidance. Sparks was a faculty member at Mount Holyoke College and Pacific Lutheran University, where he was Director of Choral Activities from 1983-2001. He founded Seattle Pro Musica and conducted three ensembles from 1973-80 in over 70 concerts; conducted the Seattle Symphony Chorale from 1990-94 (preparing the choir for nine recordings on the Delos label); founded and conducted Choral Arts in Seattle from 1993-2006 (with whom he made three recordings on the Gothic label); and Pro Coro Canada (Edmonton, AB) from 1999 to 2011. A professional chamber choir, Pro Coro toured regularly across Canada and broadcast on CBC Radio.
He has been active in the professional world guest conducting the Anchorage Music Festival, Portland Symphonic Choir, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Northwest Chamber Orchestra, Exultate Chamber Singers in Toronto, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and the Swedish Radio Choir.
Richard’s latest book, The Conductor’s Toolbox: Transforming Yourself as Musician and Conductor, can be found at GIA Music.
Sparks is one of the few Americans invited to work with the famed Swedish Radio Choir in 2002, 2007, and 2008, including preparing the Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem for a performance with Valery Gergiev and the Rotterdam Philharmonic,which is on DVD with BIS Records. He has also guest conducted the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, and the Anchorage Music Festival among many others.
Archbishop Cordileone and the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship are honored that Richard Sparks brings his distinguished talents to the B16 mission of offering great and elevating works of sacred music, both old and new, in the context in which they were made to be heard: as prayer, not performance.
Frank La Rocca
“The net impressions are of luminous sacred introspection, transcendental effect, and breathtaking beauty,” wrote Lindsay Koob, reviewer for American Record Guide, about Frank La Rocca’s debut CD, IN THIS PLACE. La Rocca’s career has traced a path from the severity of an academic modernist style, through a period of sunny minimalist concert works to finding his voice in sacred choral works and music for the Roman Catholic Mass. Of La Rocca’s “O Sacrum Convivium,” composer and organist Richard Clark wrote, “…anchored in tradition, it speaks with the authority of the ages yet with the innovation of modernity. Imbued with the Spirit, it is timeless.”
Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1951, he was educated at Yale (BA) and the University of California at Berkeley (MA, PhD), where he earned his doctorate “with distinction,” the first time such an honor was conferred on a music composition graduate at Berkeley. His 36-year teaching career included positions at the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Santa Cruz, and at the California State University, East Bay (Hayward), where he also served as Department Chair. From 1984 to 1998 La Rocca was Executive Director of the new music concert series, COMPOSERS, INC in San Francisco, and was one of its founders.
MASS OF THE AMERICAS has been hailed as “Perhaps the most significant Catholic composition of our lifetimes” (Michael Olbash), and “a cornerstone of modern liturgical composition” (Mark Nowakowski). La Rocca is the recent winner of the ORTUS international choral composition competition for his “Miserere”, and was awarded the 2018 American Prize for his “A Rose In Winter – the life of St. Rita of Cascia,” a major work for chorus, orchestra and soloists.
La Rocca’s work has been recognized with grants, commissions and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, the Foundation for Sacred Arts, Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco, ASCAP Foundation, USC Thornton Chamber Singers, Vanguard Voices, London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, Cois Cladaigh, the Madrigirls of Glasgow, and many others. Among the distinguished ensembles performing his work are The Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Benedict XVI Choir, London Oratory Schola, Lumen Valo, California Symphony, and Alexander String Quartet.
His discography includes “Canti d’Innocenza” on the SCI label, “String Trio” and “Secret Thoughts” on CRI, numerous a cappella choral works by the San Francisco Girls Chorus, Young Womens’ Choral Projects, Tucson Girls Chorus, the Meistersingers, and Vanguard Voices; and his solo CD, IN THIS PLACE on Enharmonic Records. He is published by Boosey and Hawkes, GIA/Walton Music, Santa Barbara Music and Lumen Verum Music.