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CHORAL JOURNAL August 2023 Volume 64 Number 1


How fortunate we are to live in an age where the world of choral literature seemingly continues to expand at an exponential rate. Since the advent of the Internet, it has never been easier to deliver compositions, performances, and research to a global audience. Opportunities to program new, undiscovered, or underperformed pieces are so vast that conductors could easily feel the effects of information overload. In his 2004 book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Barry Schwartz details the dilemma of having an abundance of choice in situations that originally had very few. Attempting to buy jeans, the salesperson offered Barry four separate styles in four different fits, all able to be combined in unique ways. He summarizes, “Before these options were available, a buyer like myself had to settle for an imperfect fit, but at least purchasing jeans was a five-minute affair.”1 Conductors may not want to settle for imperfect repertoire, but then the dilemma becomes: how does one wade through the enormous amount of repertoire to find those worthy of performance?

This article highlights three accessible settings of the Mass from the Classical era that have been historically overlooked or underperformed. Choral works in the traditional canon from this era tend to demand large performing forces with runtimes of more than an hour. They are also famous to the point where conductors would be hard-pressed to find an audience that did not already have a fully formed opinion of the piece. By contrast, the works presented here can be performed with their full orchestration or with keyboard accompaniment, with each lasting just under thirty minutes. While all three are sacred, the writing is accessible and idiomatic with individual movements that work exceptionally well as standalone pieces for any type of ensemble or concert. Each composition has unique characteristics that will enable meaningful and successful performances for a wide variety of choral ensembles.

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