Concert: Missa Gaia

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Susan Dedell leads a chorus and a swinging jazz band celebrating animals in Paul Winter's Missa Gaia Saturday, 4:30 p.m,, the Pole Barn, Retreat Farm, Route 30, Brattleboro. Tickets are $12 adults; $5 children

On Oct. 13 at 4:30 p.m., in a celebratory conclusion to the annual Fall Festival at the Retreat Farm, choral director Susan Dedell leads a stellar chorus and a swinging jazz band in Paul Winter's Missa Gaia. For this special one-time performance, Dedell has gathered a chorus of 40 singers, with the jazz band comprised of Bruce Diehl, soprano sax; Don Baldini, electric bass; Steve Rice, percussion, with Dedell herself at the piano. The performance will take place in the Pole Barn in the Retreat Farm grounds. The Missa Gaia was a hit from the moment it was presented in 1982. Created by Paul Winter in collaboration with Paul Halley, Jim Scott, Kim Oler, and Oscar Castro for the annual blessing of the animals at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, it created a fusion style of jazz, gospel, and classic choral writing that has remained exciting and relevant. One of the reasons that it remains so current is that since it was first premiered, many other pieces of music have been written which can be added to the score as the performers desire. "I love that this piece is not only about the environment, but that it reflects it by continually evolving and growing," says Dedell.

The Missa Gaia is a joyful thanksgiving for the environment, and celebrates the interconnectedness of all living things. It was originally notable because of its use of recorded animals sounds as part of the instrumentation, seamlessly blending the voices of whales, wolves, birds, and seals with those of the instruments and humans. "I'm so excited that for this performance, the Animals of the Retreat Farm will make a special appearance. I'm a wanna-be farmer at heart, so for me, this is truly fantastic!" says Dedell. "In place of the usual sacred liturgy that often accompanies this piece, I'm thrilled that local dairyman/poet Ross Thurber will read some of his wonderful work. This will truly be a living, organic musical moment."



The musicians for this performance have played this piece together on several occasions and have a great rapport. Dedell: "We have SO much fun playing this! I personally live for the moment when Steve blows the samba whistle. And Bruce's soprano sax is just beautiful -- singing, clear as a bell, but infused with all the soul one could want. And no one lays down a bass like Don it is THE perfect foundation."



The concert is a joint presentation of The Retreat Farm and Winged Productions, directed by Paul and Susan Dedell. Tickets for the event are available through the Retreat Farm, and at the door. Prices are $12 adult/$5 kids.


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