Fuller’s Edwin Willmington delights members of the Fuller and Pasadena communities with original score
To hear excerpts of the mass, visit the Brehm Center on iTunes U and choose"On Art and Faith."
Jubilate! An Ancient-Future Concert Mass, composed by Edwin M. Willmington, director of the Fred Bock Institute of Music at Fuller, premiered at the First Congregational Church in Pasadena on November 3. An original composition, the mass—which intriguingly combined elements old and new—was commissioned by Fuller’s Brehm Center in response to an invitation to participate in Pasadena’s 2009 Arts and Ideas Festival, “Origins.”
The executive director of the Pasadena Arts Council and organizer of the festival, Terry LeMoncheck, commented on "how stunning an evening it was. Fuller’s contribution has elevated this festival project immeasurably and put it on the trajectory which I believe it deserves.”
Fuller’s President Richard J. Mouw also offered acclaim for the performance: “Ed Willmington thrilled us all with a powerful performance, and with a terrific instrumental and choral group,” he declared. “This was a major event in Fuller's history!”
Willmington describes Jubilate! as “a musical convergence of texts taken from the origins of the Christian church and timbres familiar in the 21st century.” The processional, JubilateDeo!, began dramatically as the choir first sang from behind and around the audience before gathering onstage. Other texts sung included the Sanctus, Credo, and Kyrie, which featured the captivating soprano voice of vocalist Karen Johnson. Marcia McFee, author and worship designer, danced a poignant interpretation of the music at different times during the mass.
In the reverent hush following the final notes, author and Yale professor emeritus Nicholas Wolterstorff approached the pulpit to offer a reflection entitled “The Sound of Faith.” But first, he expressed his appreciation for Jubilate!, which the audience enthusiastically affirmed with a standing ovation. Wolterstorff observed that although we do not need music in order to worship God, “Music functions as graceful excess,” he noted. “It elevates our words of praise. And that is why the church bursts into song.” To conclude his reflection, Wolterstorff turned to Willmington and said, “We thank you for your act of gratuitous excess.”
A reception capped off the evening, gathering all who attended—Fuller students, staff, and faculty as well as members of the Pasadena community—and giving them a place to discuss the performance. An excited buzz filled the room as both young and old praised Jubilate!
Affirmation continued beyond the evening; Executive Director of the Brehm Center J. Frederick Davison remarked the next day, “I've had many requests from concertgoers for a recording and pleas to perform this work again so they can invite their friends to hear it.”
Members of the Fuller community who missed the event on Tuesday night were treated to excerpts from Jubilate! at a special all-seminary chapel the following morning in the First Congregational Church.