Amidst unnecessary contentions and frequent bad news in the Church, it becomes both essential and gratifying to share good news. Enter Catholic composer Frank La Rocca and the forthcoming CD/album release of his luminous Mass of the Americas.

In recent years, San Francisco’s Benedict XVI Institute has pursued a number of high level efforts in sacred music and the arts, including collaborations with the Musica Sacra conference and the Sacred Music Project, numerous artistic and musical commissions, and numerous in-person events, along with a series of high-profile online meetings that became a lifeline to a number of Catholics during the Covid crisis.

Under a determined series of generous patrons led by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, the BXVI Institute’s highest profile projects are the numerous mass commissions for their decorated composer-in-residence, Frank La Rocca. The first of these commissions, the Mass of the Americas, is a landscape-defining composition for SATB choir, organ, and orchestra. It was premiered at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco in 2019. Rare for a contemporary work, it has a long list of follow-up performances, including Tijuana, Houston, Allentown, NJ, Washington DC, New York, Rome, and the NAPA festival, as well as an encore in San Francisco. The Mass of the Americas has also earned a litany of praise from sacred music experts, with Professor Michael Linton calling it “The best piece of liturgical music for the Mass since Durufle,” and “Perhaps the most significant Catholic composition of our lifetime” by Dr. William Olbash. 

Now the organizers involved have taken the next ambitious (and very expensive) step of committing La Rocca’s Mass to a professional recording. The result is Frank La Rocca’s Mass of the Americas, performed by Benedict XVI Institute’s Choir and Orchestra, directed by renowned international conductor Richard Sparks. The album is being released through Capella Records, a boutique label run through the west coast choir Capella Romana, yet one which has already garnered Grammy nominations for their release of Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and critical acclaim for one of the most fascinating albums of choral music ever released: Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia: Medieval Byzantine Chant. Produced by the illustrious team of Grammy-winning Blanton Alspaugh, Mass of the Americas becomes a worthy member of this amazing lineup.

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