Jocelyn Hagen composer

University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers conductor

Release Date: July 28, 2023
Catalog #: NV6543
Format: Digital
21st Century
Vocal Music

GRAMMY-nominated conductor Eugene Rogers brings to life Jocelyn Hagen’s setting of the Roman Catholic Mass in AMASS. This work stands apart from the Mass settings of other composers who have practiced this centuries-old genre, including Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Joseph Haydn. While the music relies on the traditional Mass structure, it incorporates the spiritual writings of a diverse group of thinkers, ranging from a Muslim woman writing in the sixth century to a German theologian tried as a heretic 500 years later. In this way, the music is less about a particular religion but instead reaches toward the ineffable.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Amass: I. Prologue Jocelyn Hagen Amir Eldan, cello solo; Leo Singer, cello quartet; Isabel Dimoff, cello quartet; Calvin Van Zytveld, cello quartet; Dakota Cotugno, cello quartet 5:56
02 Amass: II. The Essence of Desire Jocelyn Hagen Bernard Holcomb, tenor; Amir Eldan, cello; Leo Singer, cello quartet; Isabel Dimoff, cello quartet; Calvin Van Zytveld, cello quartet; Dakota Cotugno, cello quartet 1:59
03 Amass: III. Kyrie Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor 2:20
04 Amass: IV. Use the Geometry Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor; Meg Dudley, soprano; Amir Eldan, cello; Leo Singer, cello quartet; Isabel Dimoff, cello quartet; Calvin Van Zytveld, cello quartet; Dakota Cotugno, cello quartet 3:49
05 Amass: V. Gloria Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor 6:57
06 Amass: VI. Inventing Truths Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor; Bernard Holcomb, tenor; Amir Eldan, cello 1:32
07 Amass: VII. Certainty Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor; Meg Dudley, soprano; Amir Eldan, cello 4:29
08 Amass: VIII. Where All Are Welcome Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor 3:13
09 Amass: IX. So Precious Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor; Jonathan Lasch, baritone; Amir Eldan, cello; Leo Singer, cello quartet; Isabel Dimoff, cello quartet; Calvin Van Zytveld, cello quartet; Dakota Cotugno, cello quartet 4:46
10 Amass: X. Sanctus Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor 5:45
11 Amass: XI. Benedictus Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor 3:57
12 Amass: XII. The Hope Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor; Meg Dudley, soprano; Bernard Holcomb, tenor; Jonathan Lasch, baritone; Amir Eldan, cello; Bret Hoag, guitar 3:43
13 Amass: XIII. In My Soul Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor; Jonathan Lasch, baritone; Amir Eldan, cello; Bret Hoag, guitar 3:07
14 Amass: XIV. Agnus Dei Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor; Amir Eldan, cello; Leo Singer, cello quartet; Isabel Dimoff, cello quartet; Calvin Van Zytveld, cello quartet; Dakota Cotugno, cello quartet 6:49
15 Amass: XV. Everything Jocelyn Hagen University of Michigan Chamber Choir | Eugene Rogers, conductor; Amir Eldan, cello; Leo Singer, cello quartet; Isabel Dimoff, cello quartet; Calvin Van Zytveld, cello quartet; Dakota Cotugno, cello quartet 9:36

University of Michigan Chamber Choir
Taylor Adams • Maia Aramburú • Laurel Baker • Julia Bezems • Summer Brogren • Maggie Burk • Sarah Jordan • Cecilia Kowara • Megan Maloney • Amber Merritt • Juliet Schlefer

Sofie Aaron • Adellyn Geenen • Samantha Kao • Anastasia Koorn • Cinderella Ksebati • Abigail Lysinger • Catherine Moore • Myah Paden • Michelle Popa • Katie Rohwer • Jaime Sharp • Antona Yost

Conor Brereton • William Fishwick • Joseph Kemper • Shohei Kobayashi • Archie Magnus • Nicholas Music • Brian Newlon • Eric Reyes • Jai Spell • Jonathan Taccolini • Jack Whitelaw

Julian Goods • Fernando Grimaldo • David Hahn • Paul Leland Hill • Peter Kadeli • Joseph Mutone • Edward Nunoo • Jeremy Peters • Jacob Surzyn • Alan Williams • Jack Williams III

Cello Choir
Leo Singer • Isabel Dimoff • Calvin Van Zytveld • Dakota Cotugno

Fitz Neeley • Hohner Porter • Daniel Vila

Bret Hoag

All translations by Daniel Ladinsky
All poetic translations are from the Penguin anthology Love Poems from God

Recording & Mixing Engineer David Schall
Editing Paul Rudoi

Mastering Melanie Montgomery

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Chris Robinson

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Eugene Rogers

Eugene Rogers


A two-time Michigan Emmy Award winner, a 2017 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient, and a 2015 Grammy® Award nominee, Eugene Rogers is recognized as a leading conductor and pedagogue throughout the United States and abroad. In addition to being the founding director of EXIGENCE and the director of choirs and an associate professor of conducting at the University of Michigan, Rogers is the artistic director of The Washington Chorus (Washington DC). 

Jocelyn Hagen


Jocelyn Hagen composes music that has been described as “simply magical” (Fanfare Magazine) and “dramatic and deeply moving” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis/St. Paul). She is a pioneer in the field of composition, pushing the expectations of musicians and audiences with large-scale multimedia works, electro-acoustic music, dance, opera, and publishing. Her first forays into composition were via songwriting, still very evident in her work. The majority of her compositions are for the voice: solo, chamber and choral. Her melodic music is rhythmically driven and texturally complex, rich in color and deeply heartfelt. In 2019 and 2020, choirs and orchestras across the country are premiering her multimedia symphony The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci that includes video projections created by a team of visual artists, highlighting da Vinci’s spectacular drawings, inventions, and texts. Hagen describes her process of composing for choir, orchestra and film simultaneously in a Tedx Talk given at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, now available on YouTube. Hagen’s commissions include Conspirare, the Minnesota Opera, the Minnesota Orchestra, Voces8, the International Federation of Choral Music, the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota, Georgia, Connecticut and Texas, the North Dakota Music Teachers Association, Cantus, the Boston Brass, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and the St. Olaf Band, among many others. Her work is independently published through JH Music, as well as through Graphite Publishing, G. Schirmer, EC Schirmer, Fred Bock Music Publishing, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and Boosey and Hawkes.

Amir Eldan


Amir Eldan performs as a soloist, chamber musician, and as guest principal cellist. In 2011-12, he served as principal cellist of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra by invitation from Zubin Mehta and a year later, as guest principal cellist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. At age 22, he became the youngest member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York, when he won the position of associate principal cellist and was invited by James Levine to perform with the MET Chamber Ensemble in Carnegie Hall.

As the winner of the Juilliard Competition, Eldan made his New York debut with the Brahms Double Concerto in Lincoln Center and has performed the six Bach Cello Suites in a series of concerts worldwide.

Eldan has collaborated in chamber music performances with members of the Cleveland, Guarneri, and Juilliard String Quartets and the Beaux Arts Trio, pianist Richard Goode, and cellists Lynn Harrell and Steven Isserlis.

Music festivals appearances include Bowdoin, Giverny (France), La Jolla (California), Pilsen (Czech Republic), Prussia Cove (England), and West Cork (Ireland). He also participated in the Marlboro music festival and toured with Musicians From Marlboro.

In 2006, while working on his doctorate, Eldan was appointed cello professor at the Oberlin Conservatory and served as chair of the String Department from 2015-19. He was a member of the Oberlin Trio and performed with the Trio throughout the U.S. and South Korea.

Professor Eldan holds a DMA and MM, both from Juilliard where he also served as a guest teacher. His performances have been featured on public television and radio in the U.S., Europe, and in Israel.

He was appointed a professor of cello at the University of Michigan in 2019.

Meg Dudley


Hailed for her “sparkling voice” (Opera News) and “full-toned soprano” (New York Classical Review), Meg Dudley has established herself as an in-demand soloist and chamber musician throughout the country. Last season, Ms. Dudley was a featured soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria at Carnegie Hall with Manhattan Concert Productions, in Huang Ruo’s Books of Mountains and Seas at St. Ann’s Warehouse in collaboration with Beth Morrison Projects and Trinity Wall Street, with TENET Vocal Artists in performances with Ensemble Caprice of Charpentier’s Les Plaisirs de Versailles and on tour throughout England and Scotland celebrating the 450th birthday of Tudor composer Thomas Tomkins, at the Berkshire Bach Society in Bach’s BWV 140 and Zelenka’s Magnificat, with St. George Choral Society in Schumann’s Der Rose Pilgerfahrt and Phillip Martin’s Missa Brevis, with the renowned Bach Vespers series at Holy Trinity Church in NYC in Bach’s BWV 22 and Magnificat, and with Grammy award-winning ensembles Conspirare in collaboration with Isaac Cates and Ordained in Austin’s Long Center, and The Crossing in Philadelphia. In summer 2022, Ms. Dudley appeared at Bard Summerscape covering two roles, Isotta and Häushelterin, in Strauss’s comic opera Die Schweigsame Frau.

In recent seasons, Ms. Dudley’s appearances include singing as the soprano soloist in Hadyn’s Mass in the Time of War and Dan Forrest’s Lux at Carnegie Hall, in Handel’s Messiah and Vaughn William’s Mass in G Minor in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, in Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Debussy’s Nocturnes with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Lorelei Ensemble in Boston’s Symphony Hall, in Poulenc’s Gloria with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Koch Theater in Lincoln Center, in Jocelyn Hagan’s A Mass with the University of Michigan at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, and in Bard Music Festival in Cherubini’s Nemo Gaudeat and in recital celebrating the songs of Puccini.

A highly sought-after ensemble singer, Ms. Dudley works regularly with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Grammy award-winning Conspirare, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Grammy award-winning The Crossing, Apollo’s Fire, TENET Vocal Artists, the New York Philharmonic, the American Classical Orchestra, the Virtuoso Singers, Lorelei Ensemble, Oregon Bach Festival’s Berwick Chorus, and the Bard Festival Singers.

Other career highlights include performing with 50 Cent in a surprise appearance at Radio City Music Hall, celebrating the premier of the Starz Network’s hit show Power; background vocals for the Netflix show The Get Down (seasons 1 and 2); and the stadium tour of Star Wars in Concert, featuring the original C3PO, Anthony Daniels. She can also be heard on Du Yun’s Angel’s Bone album, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Ms. Dudley holds a BM from the University of Denver, and a MM from Mannes School of Music.

Bernard Holcomb


Tenor Bernard Holcomb has “already made a name for himself in the world of opera” with his “delicate and flexible” voice (Opera Wire) and the “appealing sweetness and clarity [of] his tone” (New York Times). Katy Walsh of Chicago Theater Beat said it best: “Although everyone [at Lyric Opera of Chicago] can sing, Holcomb reminds us why we come to the Lyric.” In recent seasons, Mr. Holcomb returned to Long Beach Opera in the world premier of The Central Park Five, performed in Porgy and Bess in Italy with New York Harlem Productions, returned to Seattle Opera for Rigoletto, debuted with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in Dancing in the Street: The Music of Midtown and More and performed the role of Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess with Harrisburg Symphony.

Recent debuts include his Alaskan debut as Captain Leadbetter in the world premier of Emerson Eads ’Princess Sophia with Project Orpheus, his Carnegie Hall debut, his title role debut in Rossini’s Otello in NYC, and his debut at the Dresden Semperoper in Porgy and Bess. Other recent engagements include the role of Lechmere in Owen Wingrave with Little Opera Theater of NY, and his performance as a soloist in Gershwin’s Blue Monday with On Site Opera. Additionally, Mr. Holcomb performed with Sphinx Connect, as a soloist in Christian De Grè’s Twisted Operettas at Joe’s Pub, Poul Ruders’ The Thirteenth Child with Santa Fe Opera at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and BMP: Next Generation with Beth Morrison Projects. Additionally, Bernard made his return to Chicago Opera Theater as Tristan in Frank Martin’s Le Vin Herbé and was featured as a soloist with Renée Fleming and Sir Patrick Stewart in Second City’s Guide to the Opera. An alumnus of the Lyric Opera’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, Bernard performed such roles as Ernesto in Don Pasquale and Rodolfo in La bohéme. During his Lyric tenure, Mr. Holcomb appeared in the main stage performances of Strauss’ Elektra, Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Offenbach’s Les Contesd’Hoffmann and covered major roles in Massenet’s Werther, Wagner’s DieMeistersinger von Nürnberg, and Verdi’s Rigoletto. Other notable engagements include Paolino in Cimarosa’s Ilmatrimonio segreto and Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata with Pine Mountain Music Festival; The Crabman in Porgy and Bess, which led to an international tour of Porgy and Bess through Russia, Poland, Greece, Latvia, Estonia and Germany, and Gastone in La traviata with Michigan Opera Theatre. Bernard also appeared on several themed song recitals as part of a collaboration between Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago’s WFMT 98.7 which aired throughout the summer of 2013. As part of the Young Artist program at Sarasota Opera, Bernard appeared in main stage performances of Pagliacci, The Crucible, L’amico Fritz, and I Lombardi. At the end of the program, he was awarded with the Anne O’Donnell Award, given to an outstanding apprentice. Bernard has displayed a tremendous amount of musicianship and poise on concert and recital stages. These credits include a concert performance of La bohéme with Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Holiday Pops Concerts with the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra, a concert performance of Die Zauberflöte with The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and Augustus Hill’s Exegesis with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Macon Symphony Orchestra and the Illinois Philharmonic, and Mozart’s Requiem with the DeKalb Festival Chorus. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Michigan District), this Detroit native currently residing in New York City, has earned a Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. Collegiate operatic credits include Lensky in Eugene Onegin, lyric tenor in A Postcard from Morocco, Ruggero in La rondine, Rodolfo in La bohéme, and Jenik in The Bartered Bride.

Jonathan Lasch


Jonathan Lasch has been described by critics as possessing a voice of “arresting color and heft,” that is “smooth and flexible,” “thrillingly resonant and firm-lined,” a singer able to “balance a big, powerful sound with a light-handed facility with which he makes every note of the fast passagework perfectly clear,” a performer who is a “master of the stage” and a “tour de force.” Most recently, Lasch performed the roles of Sam in Trouble in Tahiti with Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and Hannah Before in As One with Aepex Contemporary Performance at Kerrytown Concert Hall. As well as; Handel’s Messiah with the Toledo Symphony, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Adrian Symphony, and the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Chorus America in Hill Auditorium.

He has also performed Schubert’s Schwanengesang several times on concert stages across Michigan. Last season Mr. Lasch sang Copland’s Old American Songs with the Dearborn Symphony, sang and recorded the baritone soloist in Jocelyn Hagen’s amass with Eugene Rogers and the University of Michigan in Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Messiah with Fort Street Chorale in Detroit, and Elijah with Dover Choral Society.

In June, 2020, Jonathan and his wife, Caitlin Lynch, were featured in the premiere recital of the series, CameraMusic, a coproduction between Chamber Music Society of Detroit and Michigan Opera Theatre. In July they collaborated with Motor City Lyric Opera and recorded Serenade for Seniors. A program of favorite songs from mid-twentieth century to be shown in assisted living and retirement communities during the Pandemic.

Other recent operatic roles include the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro for Princeton Festival, Leporello in Don Giovanni and Marco in A View from the Bridge with Michigan Opera Theater, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Master Players Concert Series at University of Delaware and Fargo Moorhead Opera, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Fargo Moorhead Opera, Scarpia in Tosca for Opera Saratoga’s Pasta and Puccini Night, Marcello in La bohème with Arbor Opera Theatre and Bar Harbor Music Festival, Ford in Falstaff with Aspen Opera Theater Center, Masetto in Don Giovanni with Green Mountain Opera Festival, and Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore with Piedmont Opera.

An accomplished concert artist, Lasch has sung the premiere of Rene Clausen’s Passion at Minnesota Orchestra Hall, Mozart’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall with Manhattan Concert Productions; Händel’s Messiah with Houston Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, and Calvin Orotorio Society, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Adrian Symphony, Bach’s Ich habe genug with Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation Series; and performances of Fauré’s and Duruflé’s Requiem, Henry Mallicone’s Beatitude Mass, Haydn’s Creation, The Five Mystical Songs, and Dover Beach with The Emerson String Quartet. He was also featured as a recitalist in Spain (Leon, Salamanca, Soria, and Bayona La Real).

While earning an Artist Diploma in Opera at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, Jonathan’s roles included the title role in Verdi’s Falstaff, Melisso in Alcina, Shrike in the Midwest première of Lowell Liebermann’s Miss Lonelyhearts, and Marcello in La bohème. During his Doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, then preDr. Lasch, reprised the title role of Falstaff and also sang his premiere of the title role in Don Giovanni. Mr. Lasch performed Ford in Falstaff and Escamillo in La tragédie de Carmen with Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program and Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia with Portland Opera. Jonathan was a Glimmerglass Opera Young American Artist for two summers where he performed Achilla in Giulio Cesare, and covered Scarpia in Tosca and Friedrich in Wagner’s comic opera Das Liebesverbot.

Mr. Lasch was fortunate to learn from some of the best training programs in the United States, having participated in the Young Artist Programs at Glimmerglass Opera, Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Connecticut Opera and the Aspen Opera Center. Dr. Lasch holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Hartt School at University of Hartford, an Artist Diploma in Opera from The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Through these programs he was able to study with some of the foremost baritone pedagogues of today, including; William McGraw, Stephen Lusmann, Stephen King, Mark Oswald and Mark Schnaible, as well as ‘Breathing Specialist’ Deb Birnbaum and renowned Wagnerian soprano, Jane Eaglen.

Dr. Lasch has taught voice at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, Adrian College, University of Michigan, and returns to Wayne State University in Detroit as Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Voice on Tenure Track. His students have gone on to study in top graduate and young artist programs, while several are performing on Broadway, and some of the foremost Opera companies in the United States. In the summer of 2019, Dr. Lasch taught Voice with University of Michigan’s MPulse, a training program for adavanced High School singers. At the age of 38, Mr. Lasch was the first inductee into Robbinsdale Armstrong High School’s ‘Hall of Fame’ in the spring of 2019. At his Alma Mater in Plymouth, MN, Jonathan’s initiative and interest in Opera started the ‘Armstrong Opera Club’, which recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary, and has enabled over 1000 high school students to attend Opera. Jonathan enjoys living in Ferndale, Michigan with his wife and three kids, and is cofounder and codirector of ‘Detroit Song Collective’ alongside his wife and world-renowned soprano, Caitlin Lynch.

U-M Chamber Choir


Led by the Director of Choral Activities, the Chamber Choir performs 6-8 concerts annually in both Hill Auditorium and in special settings, such as the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), and is often featured at high-profile U-M special events. The Chamber Choir has been featured on GRAMMY-winning and GRAMMY-nominated albums; sung with the Detroit and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestras; performed at conventions of the ACDA and NCCO; and has toured internationally. They perform standard, classical, and contemporary choral works and often perform commissioned works in world premieres.


Composers have been setting the Roman Catholic liturgy to music for centuries. There are seemingly endless examples which stretch back to the Middle Ages and range in scope from the sparse settings chanted by Gregorian monks to Johann Sebastian Bach’s grand two-hour Mass in B Minor for chorus, orchestra, and soloists. Franz Joseph Haydn wrote 14 masses during his lifetime while Palestrina contributed over 100 different settings of his own before his death in 1594. These are impressive statistics to be sure, and over the centuries writing a mass has become to the choral world what writing a symphony might be for orchestral composers: an ancient form so well-established in the medium that the listener can easily hear the unique aspects of a particular setting.

As with any piece in this tradition, Jocelyn Hagen’s amass owes much of its form to the structure of the Roman Catholic mass, which despite a few minor alterations throughout the centuries, exists in much the same way as it did when it was first formally put into practice after the Council of Trent in the 16th century. These texts call to mind the grandeur of cathedrals and the recitation of sacred rites by priests and a congregation of worshippers. They are the familiar, unchanging, and outward aspects of religion. Set directly against these traditions are English translations of spiritual musings by American poet Daniel Ladinsky from his 2002 book, Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West. They are attributed to, among others, a Muslim woman writing in the 6th century, and a German theologian tried as a heretic 500 years later. This ecstatic poetry represents the regions of a person’s understanding of God which are unique and oftentimes closely held. By including texts from diverse spiritual traditions as well as both public and private expressions of faith, amass becomes less about a certain religion and more about the dual nature of an individual’s spirituality. Though these ideas will often spring from the systems inherent in a particular belief structure (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.), in the end they become profoundly personal. It is by highlighting this dichotomy that Hagen’s work finds its inspiration and takes flight.

What is remarkable about this piece is how a centuries-old sequence of praise and prayer is given such a personal voice by its composer. Like the many who have set these same texts before her, Hagen has entered the tradition but kept her individuality intact, and in retrospect, this seems to have been the reason for sending the listener on this journey in the first place. Updating an ancient form is a gesture of continual renewal, and in taking us to the well that has been drawn from so many times before, she returns us refreshed in a way that leaves us both thoughtful and content at the same time.

amass begins, much like any sort of spiritual contemplation, with an invocation. The solo cello wanders through its high and low registers, drifting through various keys and tempos until it finds the right pitch to begin the reflection. Once this note is found the rest of the string section intones a response in the form of a chorale and they continue as leader and congregation. The tenor eventually adds his voice on a text by Saint John of the Cross, one of the proponents of the Counter-Reformation, and, with voice and instrument working together in concert, amass has begun.

The choir makes its first appearance chanting pleas for mercy in the “Kyrie,” and the music is searching for something and is intentionally difficult to listen to. The dissonant harmonies vanish briefly at the mention of “Christe,” but we are soon back to the same briar patch of notes groaned out in brief syllables before a final, supplicating cry wafts away into the ether.

At the outset of “Use the Geometry,” the marimba provides a backdrop for the soprano as she sings poetry attributed to the 14th century Hindu mystic, Mira. Once the solo cello enters, the movement takes off, and the music twists around itself like figures in a kaleidoscope held up to the light.

The second text of the Latin mass, “Gloria,” begins with an explosion of ecstatic sound only hinted at in the previous movement. Here the choir is divided into two smaller ensembles who trade dialogue back and forth. The music ebbs and flows with the opening motive nearly always present; sometimes whispered in hushed excitement, and at other times shouted from on high. The music cannot contain its joy, and eventually the opening murmur overflows into a thunderous “Amen” to propel us into the next movement.

This is the point in the Roman Catholic liturgy where the “Credo” is normally recited. It is a detailed confession of the specifics of the religion and its omission is the only departure which amass takes from the customary Latin texts. Composers will often do this because of its considerable length (as in the tradition of the Missa Brevis, or “brief mass”), but Hagen has instead constructed a moving sequence in its place centered around the universality of God and the risks of overconfidence.

After the brief statement of “Inventing Truths,” the ringing of bells signals the move into “Certainty.” Here Hagen takes the message of the poetry — by a Hindu saint from the 17th century — and overlays it on the music in a strikingly literal way. The choir is divided in two; half of them will ascend exclusively in whole steps while the other half descends solely by half steps. At first this might seem like nothing more than an intellectual exercise, but it provides a powerful metaphor about cooperation. The two choirs are failing to listen to one another, and the resultant music is strained and discordant. They learn their lesson, however, and by the end of the movement are working together — still in their respective methods — to produce something more harmonious than the eerie music we heard earlier.

Much like the tradition of Tibetan Tingsha bells — used to “clear” a space in the mind for contemplation — the ringing signals the start of something new. “Where all are welcome” presents a series of questions posed by a Spanish nun from the 16th century which become more and more impassioned until rising to an emphatic declaration which reminds us that perhaps truly listening to each other is what brings us closer to the divine. The statement is made and the choir fades away as the bells once again lead us into thoughtful reflection in “So Precious,” and the words of St. Francis of Assisi now glide over music reminiscent of a pop song.

The next two movements are paired together as meditations on the Latin words for “holy” and “blessed,” respectively. They are chanted as a mantra until the music becomes swept up in the repetition and spills over into a blissful revelation shouted at the heavens. The “Sanctus” turns immediately inward to conclude with a deep sense of personal gratitude, while the “Benedictus” goes on to quote the chorale played by the strings in the opening prologue. This music, central to amass in its entirety, will return later. Here, it is content to gradually disappear.

The next two movements come in relatively quick succession. “The Hope” punctuates the music the choir has just sung with a text by 12th century German theologian, Meister Eckhardt, as a trio of instruments quietly accompany the three soloists on a brief musing about the desire for love. “In my soul” then follows as a simple folk song rendered under a poem by Rabia, a female Sufi mystic born in Iraq in the 8th century.

For the final text taken from the Roman Catholic liturgy, the “Agnus Dei,” Hagen has constructed an unorthodox scale which has shadings of both major and minor keys; a sequence of notes which serves as a metaphor of sorts for the juxtaposition of individual spirituality and communal faith. It is dark and light; yin and yang; scarcity and abundance. The movement begins as a dance between the marimba and the treble voices of the choir and, where the “Kyrie” was brooding and wandering, this music is sure-footed and bright by comparison. It ends on a sparkling chord sung quietly as if it were a cherished gift held close to the heart.

The last movement of the work, “Everything,” is a summing up both musically and philosophically. All hands are on deck to illuminate texts from four different authors and, once the soloists begin repeating lines of poetry, the music rises to a climax on the text, “we are all madly in love with the same God.” From there, the proceedings wind down and the cello that began the contemplation at the outset of the entire work sounds the final pitches in a gentle reminder that the path to our relationship with divinity is — and has always been — a solo journey whose destination is never reached.

amass has ended. Go in peace.

— Joshua Shank, Lecturer of Music Theory and Composition, Gonzaga University in Spokane WA


I did not
have to ask my heart what it wanted,
because of all the desires I have ever known just one did I cling to,

for it was the essence of
all desire:
to hold beauty in
my soul’s

Text by St. John of the Cross

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

He left His fingerprint on a glass the
earth drinks

Every religion has studied it.
Churches and temples use the geometry of those lines
to establish rites and laws and prayers
and our ideas of the

Text by Mira

Gloria in excelsis Deo
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te. Benedicimus te.
Adoramus te. Glorificamus te.
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex caelestis,
Deus Pater
omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.
Qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi,
suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram
Patris, miserere nobis.

Quoniam tu solus Sanctus,
Tu solus Dominus. Tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe,
Cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris.

Glory be to God on high,
And on earth peace, good will towards men.
We praise thee, we bless thee,
we worship thee, we glorify thee,
we give thanks to thee for thy great glory,
O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the
Father, have mercy on us.

For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord.
Thou only art most high, Jesus Christ, with the
Holy Ghost, in the glory of God the Father.

We invent truths about God to protect ourselves
from the wolf’s cries we hear
and make.

Text by St. Thomas Aquinas

Certainty undermines one’s power, and turns happiness
into a long shot. Certainty confines.

Dears, there is nothing in your life that will not
change—especially all your ideas of God.

Look what the insanity of righteous knowledge can do:
crusade and maim thousands
in wanting to convert that which
is already gold
into gold.

Certainty can become an illness
that creates hate and
God once said to Tuka,

“Even I am ever changing—
I am ever beyond

what I may once put my seal upon,
may no longer be
the greatest

Text by Tukaram

Why this great war between the countries—the countries—
inside of us?

What are all these insane borders we protect?
What are all these different names for the same church of love
we kneel in together? For it is true, together we live; and only
at that shrine where all are welcome will God sing
loud enough to be heard.

Text by St. Teresa of Avila

is a person’s faith in God,
so precious;
never should we harm

He gave birth
to all


Text by St. Francis of Assisi

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Hosts.
Full are heaven and earth of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

What keeps us alive, what allows us to endure?
I think it is the hope of loving,
or being loved.

I heard a fable once about the sun going on a journey
to find its source, and how the moon wept
without her lover’s
warm gaze.

We weep when light does not reach our hearts. We wither
like fields if someone close
does not rain their

Text by Meister Eckhart

my soul

there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church
where I kneel.

Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.
Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is

illumined nothing,
where ecstasy gets poured into itself
and becomes

where the wing is fully alive
but has no mind or

my soul
there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque,
a church

that dissolve, that
dissolve in

Text by Rabia

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona nobis pacem.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
grant us peace.

Everything I see, hear, touch, feel, taste,
Speak, think,

Is completing a perfect circle
God has drawn.

Text by Meister Eckhart

If you put your heart against the earth with me, in serving
every creature, our Beloved will enter you from our sacred realm
and we will be, we will be
so happy.

Text by Rumi

Spirituality is love, and love never wars with the minute, the day,
one’s self and others. Love would rather die
than maim a limb,
a wing.

Text by St. Thomas Aquinas

How can we live in harmony?
First we need to

we are all madly in love
with the same

Text by St. Thomas Aquinas