Dmitri Matheny's SPIRITU SANCTO (aka "The New Millennium Mass") is a complete liturgical work of seventeen movements, drawing on jazz, gospel, choral, orchestral and world music traditions.
Commissioned by Ted W. Hall and St. Domenic's Church in San Francisco as part of the city's millennial New Year's Eve celebration, the composition received its world premiere on December 31, 1999 at the stroke of midnight.
Scored for chorus, organ, percussion, brass quintet, jazz ensemble and gospel soloist, the Mass was conducted by Dr. David Schofield, with composer Dmitri Matheny performing on flugelhorn. An all-star group of musicians is featured, including jazz vocalist Clairdee, keyboardist Matthew Clark, bassist Ruth Davies, percussionist Curt Moore, the San Francisco Brass, and the St. Dominic’s Choir.
St. Dominic’s Church, considered one of the most significant examples of neo-gothic church architecture in the western United States, provided a powerful setting for this celebration of the two thousand years since Christ’s birth. Repaired and restored following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the beautiful structure features unusual acoustics because of its soaring ceilings and stone construction.
The performance was recorded live by producer, Lolly Lewis, and Grammy-award winning recording engineer, Phil Edwards.
"I was inspired by the idea that the dawn of the new millennium should be greeted with optimism, creativity, and spiritual contemplation," said Matheny.
Informed by two millennia of inspirational music traditions, SPIRITU SANCTO is an artistic expression of hope, embracing all people.
The work employs a five-note recurring motif, sometimes set to the phrase "Spiritu Sancto," ("Holy Spirit"). This idee fixe is reiterated throughout the Mass, posing a musical question that is not answered until the final fanfare.
The same five-note motif is used to construct a composite scale (based on the B7 and C7 chords) and a harmonic structure for the piece. The result is a refreshingly contemporary composition; yet, one can hear the echoes of Gregorian chant, the works of Mozart and Haydn and the rhythms and melodies of American jazz, gospel, and global music.