Gloria by John Rutter
At 55, the English composer John Rutter has become a veritable icon of contemporary choral music. His association with Clare College, Cambridge, first as a student, then as Director of Music, and later, as the organizer of the much-recorded Cambridge Singers, has led to international recognition; the Naperville Chorus used selections from his Requiem, composed in 1985, as the centerpiece of its concerts on its 1999 European tour, and both the Chorus and the Naperville Chamber Singers have utilized Rutter settings of folk songs of English or American origin.
Gloria is one of Rutter’s most ambitious concert works, and its premiere was the occasion for his first visit to the US, in May, 1974. The Voices of Mel Olson commissioned the work, and the composer conducted the performance by that chorale in its Omaha NE home. Rutter himself sees this work as analogous to a symphony, with three movements— allegro vivace, andante, vivace e ritmico–i.e., fast, slow, fast, in common with symphonic practice, and, says Rutter, ” exalted, devotional and jubilant by turns”. Gloria represents the second section of the Ordinary, the fixed-form portion of the Latin mass, i.e., the section following the Kyrie, and the introit, when the latter is used. Many composers have set this text as an independent work: The Chorus has previously performed Glorias by both Vivaldi and Poulenc. The practice of subdividing sections of the mass, such as the Gloria and the Credo, into separate movements dates from the time of Bach, who employed it in the B-Minor Mass, but it was popularized by early 18th-century composers. Rutter based his setting on one of many Gregorian chants which utilized this text. About the orchestration, he says, “The accompaniement (sic) is for brass ensemble with timpani, percussion and organ – a combination which in the outer movements makes quite a joyful noise unto the Lord, but which is used more softly and introspectively in the middle movement”.