Ola Gjeilo's Sunrise Mass: A conductor's guide
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Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978) is a Norwegian composer that exploded on the choral scene in 2007. His recent and rapid meteoric rise has left a lacuna in literature regarding the composer and his masterwork for double SATB chorus and string orchestra, the Sunrise Mass. The Mass was commissioned in 2007 by Tore Erik Mohn for performance by two combined choruses, Majorstua Kammerkor and Kammerkoret Nova, and was premiered on November 2, 2008. Since then, the Mass has been presented in concerts both stateside and across the world to grand acclamation. Gjeilo’s compositional style and fingerprint is distinct and is the result of an amalgamation of cinematic and classical influences with sacred and secular elements. His Sunrise Mass was clearly composed with one eye on the big screen, influences by today’s hottest motion picture composers, and one eye towards the past in the direction of Brahms, Britten, Duruflé, and Bach. Whether preparing a high school or professional chorus for a performance in a recital hall or church venue, the Sunrise Mass is accessible and versatile enough to be included on most any program. This document will serve as an accessible blueprint of Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass for conductors, performers, and scholars. The purpose will be to guide and aid conductors and performers in exploring Gjeilo’s composition and to facilitate success in the preparation of the work. Contained within this study is a conductor’s analysis of the entire Mass along with a running commentary as seen from a conductor’s perspective; the identification of the essential melodic themes and corresponding musical examples; excerpts of works by composers that directly inspired Gjeilo; comparisons of Gjeilo’s music and those of other notable composers; a discussion of problematic areas in the Mass and suggestions in remedying them; and an exploration of Gjeilo’s two motets that were derived from the Mass.