The Rock Mass
Mention the Christian faith and musical productions and most people will wax lyrical about whether they prefer Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell or Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. They're the West End big hitters and tend to dominate the musical landscape, despite smaller scale work over many years from the likes of Roger Jones, Paul Field, Graham Kendrick, Phil Baggaley and others.
A new twist comes in the shape of The Rock Mass, the brainchild of Czech composer Daniel Kyzlink and Prague-based English lyricist and guitarist John de Jong. Premiered in May 2013 by the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, directed by Martin Lebel, it's an unusual piece of work blending a full orchestra, a rock band and singers.
Live performances featuring London-based singers Kirsten Joy and Gaz Twist were very well received, and now a CD plus accompanying booklet has been released. It is a strong blending of styles, delivering musical and lyrical breadth that ranges from evocative classical passages to punchy brass sections and grungey guitar-driven rock.
As a fan of prog rock, I enjoyed it, and there are certainly powerful performances from the two main singers, and the host of musicians populating rock band and orchestra. Listening on headphones helped me concentrate and appreciate the progression of the music, and flicking through the 60-page booklet, which includes lyrics, meditations, commentary and some excellent photography, was an additional devotional aid.
I suspect it's at its most powerful in live performance, but the logistics of taking this kind of production on tour mean that for the moment you'll have to experience it via CD. Definitely one to investigate. Available from www.therockmass.com