First Presbyterian Church
Mass in A Major: A Christmas Celebration
The Music and Arts Department of First Presbyterian Church of Vero Beach, in a large collaboration with several local choirs and high school musicians, will present a Christmas Celebration of the Mass in A Major by Cesar Franck this Holiday season. Two performances are scheduled to be held in the sanctuary at 520 Royal Palm Boulevard in Vero Beach. They will be held Friday, December 17, 2021, at 7:00pm, and Sunday, December 19, 2021, at 4:00pm. Admission is free to the community; a $10 donation is suggested.
Dr. Jacob Craig has always made it a goal to offer quality music performances to the Treasure Coast. As a professional musician, skilled musical director, and virtuoso pianist himself, he knows how to put on a great show. In 2019, he orchestrated a performance of the St. Cecilia Mass by Charles Gounod, featuring the Chancel Choir and Youth Orchestra at First Presbyterian where he serves as the Director of Music and Arts. The performance garnered rave reviews from the audience and became the topic of conversation for quite some time after. Now, Dr. Craig is at it again with a larger project for Christmas, and he has enlisted the help of several local choirs to make it even more spectacular than ever.
Cesar Franck’s Mass in A Major was written in 1861 as a liturgical work for use at The Basilica of Saint Clotilde in Paris. The church is famous for the Aristide Cavaillé-Coll organ, originally built in 1859, enlarged in 1933 and electrified in 1962. Franck served as a famous organist and composer from the church’s opening in 1859 until 1890. He was succeeded by many famous organists, many along with Franck whom have become known historically as “Organiste titulaire”, an honorary title that is bestowed on an organist by a nationally important church or a city with an outstanding organ because of his great virtuosity. The award is given almost exclusively in Europe and has become known through renowned organist positions at the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the large parish churches of Paris, including St. Clotilde.
Franck’s mass was originally written as a large orchestral work and featured three choir parts- soprano, tenor, and bass. Likely after concerns presented by the publisher due to the size of the work, Franck adapted the mass for smaller forces only to include harp, organ, cello, and double bass. It was this version that was originally printed in 1872. Eventually, the full orchestral score was printed, along with an adaptation for 4-part vocals to account for modern-day choirs. It is this larger work with the modern-day vocal score that will be presented at First Presbyterian Church in December.
This “mass en masse” endeavor will feature the First Presbyterian Chancel Choir in collaboration with singers from The Vero Beach Choral Society, Sebastian River High School Choirs, Vero Beach High School Choirs, and Indian River Charter High School Choir. The Youth String Orchestra will be joined by newly formed FPC Youth Winds and Percussion ensemble under the direction of Jessica Russell, Assistant Band Director at Vero Beach High School. As such, this will be the first performance of the newly established “First Presbyterian Youth Symphonic Orchestra”.
Rehearsals are underway for this wonderful performance, and all those involved are excited to get back together and make music. Mark your calendar for Friday, December 17, at 7:00pm, or Sunday, December 19, at 4:00pm. This performance will be free to the community, and a suggested donation of $10 will be accepted. Plan to arrive early as seats will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who are fully vaccinated need not wear masks. Per church policy, it is requested that those who are unvaccinated or at risk continue to wear masks and practice social distancing for safety.
For more information, please contact Ginger Lagemann, Music and Arts Administrator, at (772) 562-9088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.