I. Introit: Within the Circles of Our Lives
- Performer(s) Oregon Repertory Singers, Gilbert Seeley, conductor
- Score Available From
- ECS Publishing Group
- The Bible, Joy Harjo and Maurice Kenny, Meister Eckhart, Chinook Psalter, M.K. Dean, Wendell Berry & Gerard Manley Hopkins
SATB chorus, SSA chorus (opt.), oboe, percussion*, string quartet, 4-hand piano
Missa Gaia: Mass for the Earth is a creed for our times. The form and spirit of the traditional Mass combines with words that speak of human beings' relationship to the Earth. The texts are drawn from the Bible, from Native American poets Joy Harjo and Maurice Kenny, from medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, from the Chinook Psalter and from poets M.K. Dean, Wendell Berry and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The theme of circles permeates the entire work. The music uses the circle of fifths both as a melodic theme and as an instrumental motive. Although I have not asked the oboe to do so in this work, the oboist is one of the few instrumentalists who can breathe circularly. The string quartet traditionally sits in a semi-circle. The image of the circle is central to many of the texts of this work.
The United States of America is not an old country. Most of us are really still pioneers. We are only now learning what it is to live on this land and conversely, what it is for the land to let us live here. Amidst the natural abundance of our country, I live with the blizzards and tornadoes of the Midwest. And I see the earthquakes of the West Coast, the hurricanes of the South and East Coast, and the arid lands of the Southwest. I am reminded again and again that the human notion of dominion over nature is only that, a notion.
The truth is that the Earth lets us live with it. Native American Maurice Kenny's poem "They tell me I am lost" is a profound expression of unity and community. The poem, combined texts are drawn from the Bible and from medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, is a credo for those of us who wish to take care of the planet.