Mass (theatre)
MASS is a musical theatre
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

 work composed by Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim...

 with text by Bernstein and additional text and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy, it premiered on September 8, 1971, conducted by Maurice Peress
Maurice Peress
Maurice Peress is an American orchestra conductor, educator and author. After serving as assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein beginning in 1961, Peress went on to stand as leader of the orchestra in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1962. In 1970, he also became leader...

. The performance was part of the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center located on the Potomac River, adjacent to the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

  Mass premiered in Europe in 1973, with John Mauceri
John Mauceri
John Francis Mauceri is an American conductor, producer and arranger for theatre, opera and television. For fifteen years, he served on the faculty of Yale University. He was a protege of Leonard Bernstein...

 conducting the Yale Symphony Orchestra
Yale Symphony Orchestra
The Yale Symphony Orchestra is a symphony orchestra at Yale University which performs in Yale's Woolsey Hall and tours internationally and domestically. The present Music Director is Toshiyuki Shimada.-History:...

 in Vienna.

Originally, Bernstein had intended to compose a traditional Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

, but instead decided on a more innovative form.
The work is based on the Tridentine Mass
Tridentine Mass
The Tridentine Mass is the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the typical editions of the Roman Missal that were published from 1570 to 1962. It was the most widely celebrated Mass liturgy in the world until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI in December 1969...

 of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. Although the liturgical passages are sung in Latin, Mass also includes additional texts in English written by Bernstein, Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz (composer)
Stephen Lawrence Schwartz is an American musical theatre lyricist and composer. In a career spanning over four decades, Schwartz has written such hit musicals as Godspell , Pippin and Wicked...

, and Paul Simon
Paul Simon
Paul Frederic Simon is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.Simon is best known for his success, beginning in 1965, as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote most of the pair's songs, including three that reached number one on the US singles...

 (who wrote the first quatrain of the trope "Half of the People"). The work is intended to be staged theatrically, but it has also been performed in a standard concert setting.

Initial critical reception, including a review in the New York Times, was largely negative, but the Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

 recording of the work enjoyed excellent sales.

Cast of characters

The original cast consisted of a Celebrant, three choirs, and altar servers. A full classical orchestra performed in the pit, while onstage musicians -- including a rock band
Rock Band
Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and Electronic Arts. It is the first title in the Rock Band series. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were released in the United States on November 20, 2007, while the PlayStation 2 version was...

 and a marching band
Marching band
Marching band is a physical activity in which a group of instrumental musicians generally perform outdoors and incorporate some type of marching with their musical performance. Instrumentation typically includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments...

 -- performed and interacted onstage.
  • The Celebrant – The central character of the work, a Catholic priest
    Priesthood (Catholic Church)
    The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops, deacons and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos. The ordained priesthood and common priesthood are different in function and essence....

     who conducts the celebration of the Mass.
  • Formal Choir – A mixed choir
    A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

     (SSAATTBB) in upstage choir lofts who sing the Latin portions of the Mass.
  • Boys Choir – A children's choir (SSAA) that processes on and off stage various times, performing alone, in antiphon, or in concert with the Formal Choir and the Street Singers.
  • Street Singers – Downstage and often performing around the Celebrant and the stage instrumentalists, a broad group of female and male singers representing the congregation (and occasionally the musicians), who variously participate in the prayers of the Mass, or alternately counter those prayers in a modern context.
  • Acolyte
    In many Christian denominations, an acolyte is anyone who performs ceremonial duties such as lighting altar candles. In other Christian Churches, the term is more specifically used for one who wishes to attain clergyhood.-Etymology:...

    – Assistants to the Celebrant, who perform dances and altar assistance throughout the Mass.


In the beginning all of the performers are in harmony and agreement. During the course of the Mass, however, the street choir begins expressing doubts and suspicions about the necessity of God in their lives and the role of the Mass itself. At the play's emotional climax, the growing cacophony of the chorus' complaining finally interrupts the elevation of the Body and Blood (the consecrated bread and wine). The celebrant, in a furious rage, hurls the sacred bread, housed in an ornate cross-like monstrance, and the chalice of wine, smashing them on the floor. At this sacrilege
Sacrilege is the violation or injurious treatment of a sacred object. In a less proper sense, any transgression against the virtue of religion would be a sacrilege. It can come in the form of irreverence to sacred persons, places, and things...

 the other cast members collapse to the ground as if dead while the Celebrant sings a solo. This solo blends the chorus's disbelief with his realization that he feels worn out and wonders where the strength of his original faith has gone. At the end of his song, he too collapses. A bird-like (Holy Spirit) flute solo begins, darting here and there from different speakers in the hall, finally "alighting" in a single clear note. An altar server, who was absent during the conflict, then sings a hymn of praise to God, "Sing God a Secret Song". This restores the faith of the three choirs, who join the altar server, one by one, in his hymn of praise. They tell the Celebrant "Pax tecum" (Peace be with you), and end with a hymn asking for God's blessing. As in the actual Mass, the last words of the piece are: "The Mass is ended; go in peace."


  1. Antiphon: Kyrie Eleison
  2. Hymn and Psalm: "A Simple Song"
  3. Responsory: Alleluia
  4. Prefatory Prayers (Kyrie Rondo)
  5. Thrice-Triple Canon: Dominus vobiscum
  6. In nomine Patris
  7. Prayer for the Congregation (Chorale: "Almighty Father")
  8. Epiphany
  9. Confiteor
  10. Trope: "I Don't Know"
  11. Trope: "Easy"
  12. Meditation no. 1
  13. Gloria tibi
  14. Gloria in excelsis Deo
  15. Trope: "Half of the People"
  16. Trope: "Thank You"
  17. Meditation no. 2
  18. Epistle: "The Word of the Lord"
  19. Gospel-Sermon: "God Said"
  20. Credo
  21. Trope: "Non Credo"
  22. Trope: "Hurry"
  23. Trope: "World Without End"
  24. Trope: "I Believe in God"
  25. Meditation no. 3: De profundis, part 1
  26. Offertory: De profundis, part 2
  27. The Lord's Prayer, Our Father
  28. Trope: "I Go On"
  29. Sanctus
  30. Agnus Dei
  31. Fraction: "Things Get Broken"
  32. Pax: Communion ("Secret Songs")


Bernstein scored Mass for a large orchestra and choir, and also included an onstage groups (street musicians). Bernstein divided the orchestra into two parts: the strings, keyboards percussion are in the pit, while the woodwinds, brass, guitars, synthesizers and percussion are onstage. The instrumentation is as follows:

Pit orchestra

  • Percussion instruments (at least 4-5 players): timpani
    Timpani, or kettledrums, are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet...

    , bongos, a snare drum
    Snare drum
    The snare drum or side drum is a melodic percussion instrument with strands of snares made of curled metal wire, metal cable, plastic cable, or gut cords stretched across the drumhead, typically the bottom. Pipe and tabor and some military snare drums often have a second set of snares on the bottom...

    , a tenor drum
    Tenor drum
    A tenor drum is a cylindrical drum that is higher pitched than a bass drum.In a symphony orchestra's percussion section, a tenor drum is a low-pitched drum, similar in size to a field snare, but without snares and played with soft mallets or hard sticks. Under various names, the drum has been used...

    , a bass drum
    Bass drum
    Bass drums are percussion instruments that can vary in size and are used in several musical genres. Three major types of bass drums can be distinguished. The type usually seen or heard in orchestral, ensemble or concert band music is the orchestral, or concert bass drum . It is the largest drum of...

    , 4 tuned drums, cymbal
    Cymbals are a common percussion instrument. Cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys; see cymbal making for a discussion of their manufacture. The greater majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient designs sound a...

    s, a suspended cymbal, a triangle
    A triangle is one of the basic shapes of geometry: a polygon with three corners or vertices and three sides or edges which are line segments. A triangle with vertices A, B, and C is denoted ....

    , 2 cowbell
    The cowbell is an idiophone hand percussion instrument used in various styles of music including salsa and infrequently in popular music. It is named after the similar bell historically used by herdsmen to keep track of the whereabouts of cows.- Origins :...

    s, chimes, a tam-tam, an anvil
    An anvil is a basic tool, a block with a hard surface on which another object is struck. The inertia of the anvil allows the energy of the striking tool to be transferred to the work piece. In most cases the anvil is used as a forging tool...

    , temple blocks, a wood block
    Wood block
    A woodblock is essentially a small piece of slit drum made from a single piece of wood and used as a percussion instrument. It is struck with a stick, making a characteristically percussive sound....

    , a tambourine
    The tambourine or marine is a musical instrument of the percussion family consisting of a frame, often of wood or plastic, with pairs of small metal jingles, called "zils". Classically the term tambourine denotes an instrument with a drumhead, though some variants may not have a head at all....

    , a xylophone
    The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets...

    , a glockenspiel
    A glockenspiel is a percussion instrument composed of a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano. In this way, it is similar to the xylophone; however, the xylophone's bars are made of wood, while the glockenspiel's are metal plates or tubes, and making it a metallophone...

    , a marimba
    The marimba is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It consists of a set of wooden keys or bars with resonators. The bars are struck with mallets to produce musical tones. The keys are arranged as those of a piano, with the accidentals raised vertically and overlapping the natural keys ...

    , and a vibraphone
    The vibraphone, sometimes called the vibraharp or simply the vibes, is a musical instrument in the struck idiophone subfamily of the percussion family....

  • Keyboards
    Keyboard instrument
    A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard. The most common of these is the piano. Other widely used keyboard instruments include organs of various types as well as other mechanical, electromechanical and electronic instruments...

    : a celesta
    The celesta or celeste is a struck idiophone operated by a keyboard. Its appearance is similar to that of an upright piano or of a large wooden music box . The keys are connected to hammers which strike a graduated set of metal plates suspended over wooden resonators...

    , a piano
    The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

    , and 2 Allen organ
    Allen Organ
    The Allen Organ Company builds classical digital and combination digital and pipe organs, as well as digital theatre organs. Its factory is located in Macungie in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.-History:...

    s (small and large)
  • Strings
    String instrument
    A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

    : a harp
    The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones and has its own sub category . All harps have a neck, resonator and strings...

    , first and second violin
    The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

    s, viola
    The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

    s, violoncellos and double bass
    Double bass
    The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...


Onstage groups

Stage orchestra:
  • Woodwinds
    Woodwind instrument
    A woodwind instrument is a musical instrument which produces sound when the player blows air against a sharp edge or through a reed, causing the air within its resonator to vibrate...

    : 2 flute
    The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

    s (both doubling on piccolo
    The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...

    s), 2 oboe
    The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

    s (second doubling on English horn), 3 clarinet
    The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

    s in B-Flat (first doubling on soprano saxophone
    Soprano saxophone
    The soprano saxophone is a variety of the saxophone, a woodwind instrument, invented in 1840. The soprano is the third smallest member of the saxophone family, which consists of the soprillo, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass and tubax.A transposing instrument pitched in...

    , second doubling on alto saxophone
    Alto saxophone
    The alto saxophone is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in 1841. It is smaller than the tenor but larger than the soprano, and is the type most used in classical compositions...

     and clarinet in E-Flat
    E-flat clarinet
    The E-flat clarinet is a member of the clarinet family. It is usually classed as a soprano clarinet, although some authors describe it as a "sopranino" or even "piccolo" clarinet. Smaller in size and higher in pitch than the more common B clarinet, it is a transposing instrument in E, sounding a...

    , third doubling on tenor saxophone
    Tenor saxophone
    The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. The tenor, with the alto, are the two most common types of saxophones. The tenor is pitched in the key of B, and written as a transposing instrument in the treble...

     and bass clarinet
    Bass clarinet
    The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in B , but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B clarinet...

     in B-flat), and 2 bassoon
    The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...

    s (second doubling on contrabassoon
    The contrabassoon, also known as the double bassoon or double-bassoon, is a larger version of the bassoon, sounding an octave lower...

  • Brass
    Brass instrument
    A brass instrument is a musical instrument whose sound is produced by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips...

    : 4 horns
    Horn (instrument)
    The horn is a brass instrument consisting of about of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player ....

     in F, 4 trumpet
    The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

    s, 3 trombone
    The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...

    s (2 tenor, 1 bass), and a tuba
    The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the...

  • Percussion (2 players): bongos, 2 drum sets, finger cymbals, temple blocks, 2 tambourines and a glockenspiel
    A glockenspiel is a percussion instrument composed of a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano. In this way, it is similar to the xylophone; however, the xylophone's bars are made of wood, while the glockenspiel's are metal plates or tubes, and making it a metallophone...

  • Keyboard: 2 synthesizer
    A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

    s (one for blues band, the other for rock band)
  • Voice
    Human voice
    The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal folds for talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. Its frequency ranges from about 60 to 7000 Hz. The human voice is specifically that part of human sound production in which the vocal folds are the primary...

    : a high baritone
    Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

     solo (Celebrant), a boy soprano
    Boy soprano
    A boy soprano is a young male singer with an unchanged voice in the soprano range. Although a treble, or choirboy, may also be considered to be a boy soprano, the more colloquial term boy soprano is generally only used for boys who sing, perform, or record as soloists, and who may not necessarily...

     solo, a SSAATTBB choir (at least 60 singers, in robes), a Boys' choir
    Boys' choir
    A boys' choir is a choir primarily made up of choirboys who have yet to begin puberty or are in the early to middle stages of puberty and so retain their more highly pitched childhood voice type...

     (SSAA) (at least 20 singers, doubling on kazoo
    The kazoo is a wind instrument which adds a "buzzing" timbral quality to a player's voice when the player vocalizes into it. The kazoo is a type of mirliton, which is a membranophone, a device which modifies the sound of a person's voice by way of a vibrating membrane."Kazoo" was the name given by...

  • Strings: an acoustic guitar
    Acoustic guitar
    An acoustic guitar is a guitar that uses only an acoustic sound board. The air in this cavity resonates with the vibrational modes of the string and at low frequencies, which depend on the size of the box, the chamber acts like a Helmholtz resonator, increasing or decreasing the volume of the sound...

    , 2 electric guitar
    Electric guitar
    An electric guitar is a guitar that uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric audio signals. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before sending it to a loudspeaker...

    s (second doubling on banjo
    In the 1830s Sweeney became the first white man to play the banjo on stage. His version of the instrument replaced the gourd with a drum-like sound box and included four full-length strings alongside a short fifth-string. There is no proof, however, that Sweeney invented either innovation. This new...

    ), and 2 bass guitar
    Bass guitar
    The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

    s (one for the stage orchestra, the other for the rock band)

Bernstein included a note that the musicians in the stage orchestra are to be robed and also act as cast members. Bernstein also went so far as to include a footnote that the bassist and the keyboardist of the Blues band and the keyboardist, bassist and drummer of the Rock band are to be recruited as percussionists for the stage orchestra for the second movement.

Street musicians:
  • Percussion: 3 steel drums, claves, bottles, a tambourine, gourds, and tin cans
  • Voice: at least 45 singers (20-30 soloists are used from this group)

In his instructions, Bernstein indicated that the percussion should be played by members of the street musicians.


  • 1971: Alan Titus
    Alan Titus
    Alan Titus is an internationally-celebrated baritone. He studied under Aksel Schiøtz at the Colorado School of Music, and Hans Heinz at The Juilliard School. His official debut was as Marcello in La bohème, in Washington, DC, in 1969. He came to prominence, however, in Leonard Bernstein's...

     (Celebrant), Norman Scribner Choir, Berkshire Boy Choir, Studio Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein (Conductor) - Sony Classical
  • 2004: Jerry Hadley
    Jerry Hadley
    Jerry Hadley was an American operatic tenor. He received three Grammy awards for his vocal performances in the recordings of Jenůfa , Susannah , and Candide...

     (Celebrant), Rundfunkchor Berlin, Berlin Cathedral Chorus, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
    Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
    The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin is an orchestra based in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in 1946 by American occupation forces as the RIAS-Symphonie-Orchester . It was also known as the American Sector Symphony Orchestra...

    , Kent Nagano
    Kent Nagano
    __FORCETOC__Kent George Nagano is an American conductor and opera administrator. He is currently the music director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Bavarian State Opera.-Biography:...

     (Conductor) - Harmonia Mundi
    Harmonia Mundi
    Harmonia Mundi is an independent music record label founded in 1958 by Bernard Coutaz in Arles . The Latin phrase means "world harmony"....

  • 2008: Randall Scarlata (Celebrant), Tölzer Knabenchor
    Tölzer Knabenchor
    The Tölzer Knabenchor is a boys' choir with roots in the Bavarian town of Bad Tölz.The choir group is still led by director and singing master Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden, who founded the choir in 1956 when he was only nineteen years old. The founder was once a student of Carl Orff's and worked with him...

    , Chorus Sine Nomine, Tonkünstler-Orchester, Kristjan Järvi
    Kristjan Järvi
    Kristjan Järvi is an Estonian-American conductor. Järvi is the younger son of Neeme Järvi, and the brother of conductor Paavo Järvi and flutist Maarika Järvi....

     (Conductor) - Chandos
  • 2009: Jubilant Sykes
    Jubilant Sykes
    Jubilant Sykes is an American baritone. He has performed with Christopher Parkening and other artists, and has appeared in such venues as the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, London's Barbican Centre, the Apollo Theater, Hollywood Bowl, New Orleans Jazz...

     (Celebrant), Morgan State University
    Morgan State University
    Morgan State University, formerly Centenary Biblical Institute , Morgan College and Morgan State College , is a historically black college in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Morgan is Maryland's designated public urban university and the largest HBCU in the state of Maryland...

     Choir, Peabody Children's Chorus, Morgan State University Marching Band, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is a professional American symphony orchestra based in Baltimore, Maryland.In September 2007, Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra’s twelfth music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra.The BSO Board...

    , Marin Alsop
    Marin Alsop
    Marin Alsop is an American conductor and violinist. She is the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.In 2012, Alsop will replace Yan Pascal Tortelier as principal conductor of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra....

     (Conductor) - Naxos
    Naxos Records
    Naxos Records is a record label specializing in classical music. Through a number of imprints, Naxos also releases genres including Chinese music, jazz, world music, and early rock & roll. The company was founded in 1987 by Klaus Heymann, a German-born resident of Hong Kong.Naxos is the largest...

     (The 2009 version is Grammy Nominated)


Although several performances were televised, none are available commercially. There is one DVD version:
  • 2004: "Leonard Bernstein Mass at the Vatican City (2000)" (ASIN: B0002S641Y) Enrico Castiglione (Celebrant) - Kultur Video
    Kultur Video
    Kultur Video is a video company that specializes mostly in issuing televised performances of the classics, both musical and dramatic. Along with issuing famous television programs by such artists as Leonard Bernstein and Mikhail Baryshnikov, they are also responsible for videocassettes and/or DVDs...

FBI warning

The FBI kept a file on Bernstein because of his leftist views. In the summer of 1971, the Bureau warned the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 that the Latin text of the mass might contain anti-war messages, which could cause embarrassment to President Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 should he attend the premiere and applaud politely. Rumors of such a plot by Bernstein were leaked to the press. According to Gordon Liddy, White House counsel John Dean
John Dean
John Wesley Dean III is an American lawyer who served as White House Counsel to United States President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973. In this position, he became deeply involved in events leading up to the Watergate burglaries and the subsequent Watergate scandal cover-up...

 stated that the work was "definitely anti-war and anti-establishment, etc." Nixon did not attend the premiere; in the press he had this described as an act of courtesy to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, because he felt the formal opening "should really be her night".

40th anniversary performances and other major performances

The European Premier of Mass was performed in July 1973 at Vienna's Konzerthaus with a cast consisting of students from Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, a choir from Vienna, and the Yale Sympohony Orchestra, all conducted by John Mauceri
John Mauceri
John Francis Mauceri is an American conductor, producer and arranger for theatre, opera and television. For fifteen years, he served on the faculty of Yale University. He was a protege of Leonard Bernstein...

. Mauceri, a protegé of the composer who studied at Tanglewood, was then a faculty member at the Yale School of Music and director of the student orchestra. He conducted the piece at Yale in the fall of 1972, at which time the composer elected to take the cast and orchestra abroad. Bernstein's Amberson Enterprises sponsored the production, which used amateur performers because of union restrictions on taking the Kennedy Center cast abroad. Michael Hume, the son of Washington Post music critic Paul Hume, sang the role of the Celebrant. Ted Libby, later a music critic for the New York Times and the Washington Post, was a member of the Street Chorus, as was the television actor Robert Picardo
Robert Picardo
Robert Picardo is an American actor. He is best known for his portrayals of Dr. Dick Richards on ABC's China Beach, the Emergency Medical Hologram , also known as The Doctor, on UPN's Star Trek: Voyager, The Cowboy in Innerspace, Coach Cutlip on The Wonder Years , Ben Wheeler in Wagons East, and as...


The Yale/Vienna production was filmed for television by ORF, the Austrian broadcasting system, under the direction of Brian Large
Brian Large
Brian Large is a television director specializing in opera and classical music broadcasts.-Studies:...

, a renowned producer of live music films. To date, this production has not been released on video, though it was broadcast several times in the United States by PBS, in its "Theatre in America" series. The producers of the PBS biography, Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note, used clips from the film because no other high quality footage could be found. The design, direction and flavor of the production are redolent of the 1960s and 1970s, when Godspell, Hair, and Jesus Christ Superstar used similar anarchical styles to present counter-culture themes on stage.

2011 saw several performances of the Mass commemorating the 40th anniversary of its premiere in 1971. Among these were a production presented by the Anchorage Concert Chorus, Alaska Children’s Choir, and Alaska Dance Theatre in the Atwood Concert Hall on March 18 and 20 in Anchorage, Alaska, and the University of Colorado
University of Colorado
The University of Colorado system is a system of public universities in Colorado consisting of three universities in four campuses: University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and University of Colorado Denver in downtown Denver and at the Anschutz Medical Campus in...

 at Bolder in the Boettcher Concert Hall
Boettcher Concert Hall
Boettcher Concert Hall, located in Denver, Colorado, was the first symphony hall in the round in the United States. Built in 1978, as a home for the Denver Symphony Orchestra, the hall is part of the Denver Performing Arts Complex, the second largest performing arts complex in the United States...

 (Denver) on April 26. A full-stage production was performed at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center
Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center
The Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center is located in Dayton, Ohio and was built in 2003 to serve as Dayton's key performance arts center. This building hosts performances from local, national, and international performing arts groups...

 in Dayton, Ohio, May 13 and 14, featuring the Dayton Philharmonic, conducted by Maestro Neal Gittleman, and actors, singers and dancers from Wright State University
Wright State University
Wright State University is a comprehensive public university with strong doctoral, research, and undergraduate programs, rated among the 260 Best National Universities listed in the annual "America's Best Colleges" rankings by U.S. News and World Report. Wright State is located in Fairborn, Ohio,...

, directed by Greg Hellems, choreographed by Gina Walther, with musical direction by Hank Dahlman, as well as the Kettering Children's Choir, featuring John Wright as the Celebrant, and produced by W. Stuart McDowell.

The first major New York City production was on November 19, 2002 with the Collegiate Chorale and the Orchestra of St. Luke's with the late Robert Bass conducting. The Celebrant was portrayed by Douglas Webster and the Boy Soprano was sung by James Burnett Danner. Soloists included Geoffrey Blaisdell, Peter Buchi, Charis Fliermans, D. Michael Heath, Jan Horvath, Andre McCormick, Warren Moore, Anika Noni Rose, Liz Queler, Lori Rivera and others. The New York Times gave the production a rave review recognizing that the production was an appropriate rebellion to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lighting design was created by Matthew Antaky. Michael Conley and Diego Tornelli musically prepared the production.
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