Publication of the score: see the OUP Catalogue.
Blurb by OUP: “…a stunning new setting of the Missa Brevis, showcasing Jackson’s mesmerizing choral writing…”
The first professional recording of the piece. It’s included on Gabriel Jackson: Beyond The Stars—Sacred Choral Works Vol II—Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral Edinburgh.
From notes by Brian Davey:
To commission a new piece of choral music from a composer is very much an act of faith. No matter how carefully the short-list of possible composer has been selected; no matter how well know earlier works by the same composer may be; no matter how careful the briefing has been about the vocal and instrumental resources available; what will finally emerge at the end of the process is a great unknown. So, one takes the plunge, signs the contract, and waits patiently—or perhaps not so patiently—for months. Meanwhile, the composer uses his own unique blend of technical expertise and individual inspiration, through several drafts no doubt, until a finished piece of music emerges, and the score is sent to the commissioner. So, that’s it! Well, not quite. All we have is several sheets of paper with black dots on horizontal lines, skilfully contrived, of course, but essentially inanimate. We read the score and try to imagine the effect, or rush to the piano to play snippets of it, lesser mortals like me wondering why they haven’t the facility to combine the accompaniment with the choral parts, to achieve some indication of overall effect. But such a thing is impossible; it lacks the one essential ingredient—the human voice.
St. Margaret’s Choir provided the human voices for the very first performance of Gabriel Jackson’s Missa Sanctae Margaretae to be performed in its proper liturgical context at the Patronal Festival Eucharist on Sunday 18 July 2010. Gabriel Jackson is already well established as a fine choral composer, who has worked closely with cathedral choirs, and is currently the composer-in-residence to the BBC Singers. His works are regularly performed, and widely available on CDs. We are delighted that he could accept this commission.
It was, as far as we can tell, the first time a piece has been commissioned for the St Margaret’s Choir from a professional composer, and it was commissioned by her family and friends in memory of Gwyneth Davey, whose Year’s Mind falls very close to St. Margaret’s Patronal Festival. She was herself a keen member of the choir, and for many years of the Oxford Bach Choir, and her love of choral music made it fairly easy to decide that a commission of this nature was a suitable memorial to her. She would be delighted to think that ‘her’ choir at St. Margaret’s would be giving the first performance. Other places will take up the work, no doubt, but to St Margaret’s belongs the excitement, and possibly the apprehension, that goes with a world premiere. So, even before the first performance, Richard, Martin and the choir deserve our thanks for their willingness to undertake such a challenging project. Hopefully, the pleasure of singing this new Mass will more than compensate for the effort required…and, of course, it’ll be easier the second time around!