After the premiere of my Mass

I am feeling happy and thankful after the successful premiere of my Missa in honorem Beati Hemmingi Episcopi (or simply Mass of Blessed Hemming). It was wonderful to hear this liturgical composition, which I worked on for 8 years, in its natural setting, i.e. as part of a solemn Catholic mass in the medieval cathedral of Turku. It was here that Blessed Bishop Hemming worked in the 14th century.

The event itself was exciting and I had slept pretty badly beforehand. During the rehearsals, however, it had quickly become clear that the Suomen Laulu choir knew my demanding piece excellently – they had been practicing it for almost a year already. St. Michel Strings had no difficulty in performing the orchestral part. Concertmaster Jyrki Lasonpalo played the violin solos soulfully. And Pilvi Listo, to whom the composition is dedicated, was as musical and magnificent at the organ as always. I was especially happy that the conductor was Esko Kallio – he had studied my composition really deeply and thoroughly and was able to carry out my ideas sensitively and impressively.

My other composition, the short Ballad “Am Lebensbrunnen”, also had its premiere in the Holy Mass. This composition is actually for either clarinet or viola and piano. Because our clarinetist got sick, we ended up performing the piece in the following way: I played the piano part on the grand piano of Turku Cathedral, and the organist Pilvi Listo played the melody on the chamber organ. It was a workaround, but actually the piece worked beautifully that way, too!

The music of my Mass of Blessed Hemming lasts about 35 minutes, so the Holy Mass turned out to be quite long. Towards the end of the Mass, some of the children present became restless and started making a fuss in the church. Some parents took their children to the playroom behind the altar, which was actually supposed to be closed and reserved only for the use of the choir. This did not calm the children down but made them clown around even more. It increased the noise in the ancient Gothic church. I heard that the commotion had also disturbed the concentration of some performers, although they were still able to perform wonderfully. It is still unclear whether all this racket ruined the radio recording made by the Finnish Broadcast Company YLE. It would really be a pity.

On the other hand, I thought: This was a Holy Mass, not a concert. Everyone can come to the Mass, including children, and children are allowed to be children. They don’t need to behave like adults and some fuss and noise is OK. I myself have several children and I know that the kids cannot always behave nicely in church.

If my children get restless and start to disturb the Mass with their noises, me or my husband take them outside the church to calm them down. When they behave somewhat calmly again, they are allowed to come back to the Mass. I have tried to teach my children that although children are always allowed to come to the Holy Mass, the church is not a playground. Sometimes this works out, sometimes it does not. At the premiere of my composition, my own children behaved exceptionally beautifully. The reason for the silence might have been that my youngest, 5-year-old son, was sleeping a good part of the time! Older children enjoyed the devout atmosphere and music.

We were 900 people in the Cathedral. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Emeritus Teemu Sippo SCJ and concelebrated by over a dozen other priests from Finland. There were of course hundreds of Finnish Catholics but also Lutherans in the Mass. I am grateful to all the friends who came to listen from near and far – even from Italy.

In this photo, I’m thanking the parishioners for their applause at the end of the Mass.

Photos are by Marko Tervaportti and Irja Kajander-Vierkens.


About terhipiano

A Finnish musician and mother in Berlin. English is not my mother tongue, but I do the very best I can. I hope you understand.
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