‘Misa Latina’ – a programme note

In advance of the first performance of ‘Misa Latina’ by London Docklands Singers on Saturday 25th June at All Saints, Poplar, here is the programme note for the piece. Tickets are available on the door or in advance from http://carminaburana2016.brownpapertickets.com.

The title of this mass setting is a terrible pun. The ‘latin’ of ‘Latina’ owes more to ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ than to the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy, and all the movements except the ‘Kyrie’ are in English (and even ‘Kyrie’ is Greek, not Latin!) That said, the work is a serious setting of liturgical texts that draws on the rhythms and idioms of Latin American dances and fuses these with western choral tradition. The borrowing is genuine, without claiming to be ‘authentic’ – it is born (as Stravinsky said of some of his own borrowings) out of love rather than respect.

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Ravel’s ‘Mother Goose’ stories

The ‘Cinq pieces enfantines’ that make up Ravel’s ‘Mother Goose Suite’ illustrate moments from fairy tale narratives. Apart from the last (The Fairy Garden), each is subtitled with a line or two from the text of a story. Three of these are well known stories: Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, and Beauty and the Beast (all from Perrault). The third, ‘Pagodes et Pagodines’ is based on a less familiar tale, ‘The Green Serpent’, by Mme d’Anglebert.