While many choirs have resorted to using online technology for practices and concerts during lockdown, Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society and Friends have set the bar high by producing three concerts of entirely original works. Following their concerts of music for Christmas and St. David’s Day, the choir is now releasing a performance of Iain James Veitch’s Jazz Missa Brevis on May 31st.
Composed in 2018, the Missa Brevis is an unusual piece for mixed choir and jazz piano trio. As Veitch explains ‘I hope that using the jazz label will not create the expectation that the piece is a pastiche of various, familiar jazz styles. My ambition was to try and integrate my own style of writing with the expectations and possibilities of the jazz ensemble.’ Though jazz is traditionally associated with improvisation, he explains that this is not the case in this work, ‘In some respects, the Jazz Missa Brevis isn’t jazz at all – no improvisation is required from the players and there is certainly no room for improvisation by the singers!’.
In many ways, the work is a perfect piece for these difficult times. Lasting just over 15 minutes, it is full of catchy tunes and rhythms. Choristers have been recording their own individual vocal and video performances before having these mixed together to produce the final combined result. As Veitch states, ‘For this ‘lockdown’ project, with the necessity for the singers to record their performances in isolation at home, I felt that a work like this would be particularly suitable given that the rhythm section provides an ideal ‘backing track’ for singers to record their individual contributions.’
The five separate movements of the Missa Brevis are being released on successive Mondays throughout May, with the complete recording appearing on the 31st. All performances are free to watch and can be found be searching ‘Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society’ on YouTube. More detail can also be found on the Society’s website (llandaffcathedralchoralsociety.org).