Commissioned by Mike and Kay McCarthy and brilliantly executed by composer Carol Barnett and librettist Marisha Chamberlain, The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass blends the classical mass, modern choral sophistication, touching poetry and traditional bluegrass instrumentation into an exhilarating musical experience.
Originally premiered by Monroe Crossing with VocalEssence, a Minnesota-based professional choral group led by Philip Brunelle, choirs from Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, California, Indiana and Washington DC have since brought Monroe Crossing in to perform The World Beloved.
“It’s a classical piece of choral music that’s a stunningly beautiful work of art. It's given us the opportunity to work with some of the great choirs and conductors and bring bluegrass music to a classical audience for the very first time,” says bass player Mark Anderson.
The World Beloved was recorded by Monroe Crossing and VocalEssence for the Clarion label. Learn more about the album on ourCD page.
Enjoy this recent performance with Monroe Crossing amd the Macalester Concert Choir under the direction of Matthew Mehaffey.
Performances of the "The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass" are listed below.
Review of the World Premiere Concert William Randall Beard, Minneapolis Star Tribune -
January 22, 2007
Carol Barnett’s amazing “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass” was given its world premiere by the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers in collaboration with the bluegrass band Monroe Crossing at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater on Friday night. This was not an easy partnership…but her music was idiomatic enough and the musicians flexible enough that it sounded perfectly natural…Barnett traversed the two idioms quite ingeniously, bringing out the best in both ensembles. The contrasts between the
sophisticated classical choral sound and the jubilant bluegrass harmonies were effectively used to make the text come alive…the triumphant Gloria…was an exuberant success. Likewise, the Credo…became a powerful Gospel number. This mass was a compelling statement of faith that ended on a note of sublime grace and peace.
Composer's Program Note
To bring the solemnity of the classical choir-based mass together with the down home sparkle of bluegrass—now there’s an assignment. My highest hope is that listeners coming from one tradition—classical or bluegrass—and perhaps dubious about the other, might discover something new and wonderful in the combination, as I have. Composing the music for The World Beloved has given me the chance to write cheery sacred music— all too rare in a medium rife with staid and even lugubrious settings. And it’s brought me back to memories of music heard while visiting my grandparents, country music with a church flavor that told stories and came out of a scratchy old record player. Grandma would not have allowed dancing, but under the table I tapped my toes.
Some performances and educational programs are "funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Arts Board through the arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008."