“At this pace, we won’t get to church until NEXT WEEK!” our driver said as we were sitting on the Mass turnpike. On Sunday we were picked up at 10:10 am — in plenty of time, we thought, for the 11:15 High Mass at the Church of the Advent in downtown Boston. But we found ourselves literally crawling on the Mass turnpike, due to an apparent electricity outage in the Back Bay Area, causing a massive traffic jam.
What should have taken us only half an hour took us over an hour to get to this historic church, where our good friend, Edith Ho, was formerly the organist/choirmaster. Unfortunately, it meant that we missed organist Mark Dwyer’s prelude, Cortège et litanie by Marcel Dupré. We arrived in the middle of the Gloria, part of a polyphonic mass by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1524-1594) sung by the Church of the Advent Choir, an all-professional group, which sounded as lovely as ever. Other parts of the Palestrina mass included the Sanctus, Benedictus and the Agnus Dei. The summer choir of ten singers also sang Credo quod redemptor meus vivit as the Offertory and Sing unto The Lord by Christopher Tye (c1505-1572).
Click here for videos of the Advent Choir.
From the Church of the Advent website: Mark Dwyer came to the Advent from St Paul’s Parish, K Street, in Washington, DC, in 2007. He was formerly the Music Director at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY, and before that Associate Organist and Choirmaster at the Advent. A Worcester native and 1985 graduate of the New England Conservatory (also earning a Master’s Degree in 1990), where he studied with Yuko Hayashi, William Porter, Frank Taylor and Charles Krigbaum, Mark has also been a faculty member and choirmaster at the annual Saint Michael’s Conference for Young People for many years. An active accompanist and recitalist, Mark has performed in North and South America and Europe. He is featured on several recordings by the Advent Choir as both accompanist and conductor, and is the performer on a JAV recording of the Advent’s Aeolian-Skinner organ in the series “Great Organ Builders of America: A Retrospective.” Mark and his wife Cheryl have a son, Douglas.
I was impressed by the excellent service playing by Mark Dwyer, and I absolutely loved it when he pulled on the Festival Trumpets on the closing hymn. At the end of the service, about forty people sat quietly during the organ postlude, Symphonie VI, op. 42: Finale by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937). I was very happy when there was no one clapped afterwards! (I guess now I’m showing my bias about applause in church!)<!