Monadnock Music

Lecture by composer Ralf Yusuf Gawlick

Sunday, October 6, 3pm

Location TBA


Composer Ralf Yusuf Gawlick will discuss his bold and original 8-voice a cappella Missa Gentis Humanæ(Mass for the Human Race), a work that blends the Latin Mass Ordinary with passages from Borges, Virgil, Brecht, Zbigniew Herbert, Dostoevsky, Plautus, Walter Scott and the Gospel According to St. John. The Missa juxtaposes diverse multilingual texts, illustrating the global human element of faith, with roots in the past and its future illuminated through contemporary experience.

About the Mass

The ritual of the Mass is both a remembrance and celebration of God's sacrifice for every human life. This sacrifice, Jesus' Crucifixion for our sins, is the most profound act of Love and the redemptive essence of this ritual celebration. The fons et origo of my Mass setting lies in including Christ's call to Love from the Gospel According to St. John into the traditional texts of the Mass Ordinary: "This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15,12)

Love, so central to the human experience and existence, inspired me to augment the Latin Mass texts with literary reflections, meditations, and exhorations on love by authors throughout the centuries drawn from the main branches (Slavic, Germanic, Koine Greek, Latin) of Indo-European language families. Phrases and extended passages drawn from Borges, Virgil, Brecht, Zbigniew Herbert, Dostoevsky, Plautus, Herbert and Walter Scott establish broad aesthetic, devotional, linguistic and literary perspectives that engage with the Mass texts and each other. The Mass thus becomes a multilingual vessel of cross-referential commentary, interpretation, reflection and even textual substitution for portions of the Mass Ordinary. This dramatic fusion of different languages, ideas, beliefs and Augustinian-type "confessions" within the Mass Ordinary creates a profound dialogue with doctrine. Yet regardless of varying literary aesthetics and tradtions, all texts, including those that comprise the Mass ordinary, are reconciled by a common appeal/commandment: love and to love. By embracing different languages and texts, the appeal becomes universal and Missa gentis humanæ humbly reveals itself as Mankind's Mass.


Ralf Yusuf Gawlick, of Romani-Kurdish descent, was born in Germany in 1969. His works include solo, chamber, orchestral and choral music, traversing a wide range of styles and often exploring aspects of his complex international heritage. His music has been commissioned and championed by a wide range of artists and organizations, attracting international acclaim from audiences and critics. In recent years his eight-voice Missa Gentis Humanæ (commissioned by the Choir of Trinity Church, Wall Street), song cycle, Kollwitz-Konnex (…im Frieden seiner Hände) (dedicated to guitarist Eliot Fisk and soprano Anne Harley), the autobiographical Imagined Memories (commissioned by the Vienna-based Hugo Wolf Quartet) and electro-acoustic musical memorial entitled Herzliche Grüße Bruno ~ Briefe aus Stalingrad for baritone, two pianos and sound montage have exemplified his remarkably diverse output, with its frequent references to the highlights of the Western musical canon and rigorous compositional standards. His music, published by several firms, has been performed internationally (in venues including Vienna's Musikverein, New York's Carnegie Hall) and is recorded on the Musica Omnia label in composer-supervised performances by the works' dedicatees. A professor at Boston College, Ralf Gawlick lives in Newton, MA, with his wife and fellow musician, Basia.


Ciaran and Tara with Ishna:

David McGrory

Ciaran Nagle (Irish Tenor) and Tara Novak (vocals, violin/fiddle) have been performing together since they met in 2005 on a bus at the beginning of a Christmas tour with Ciaran’s show, the Three Irish Tenors. Sharing both a passion for Irish music and for the art of entertainment, they soon after decided to develop their group “Ishna” - a project which would allow for more in-depth exploration of Irish and folk repertoire, as well as providing an opportunity to showcase their vocal harmonies, Tara’s up-beat arrangements of Irish instrumental music, and new compositions written by the pair of them.

David McGrory

David McGrory (piano, accordion) has been a member of Ishna since 2014, when Ciaran and Tara relocated the project to Boston. He is a sought-after classical pianist, music director, and composer, but being a Belfast man, he enjoys the opportunity within this group to return to some of his Irish roots!

Ishna is the name of the band that accompanies Ciaran and Tara (instruments include: guitar, mandolin, Irish whistles, uilleann bagpipes, accordion, piano, bodhran, and percussion). The members of Ishna have performed for Riverdance, on Broadway, with Symphony Orchestras, won Grammys, recorded hundreds of albums with other groups, and are truly some of the best musicians in the world. Ishna is an anglicized spelling of the ancient Irish name “Uisneach”, from the tale “Deirdre and the Sons of Uisneach”.

About this Program

This is a special program, appropriate for star-gazing in the beautiful mountains of Southwestern New Hampshire! It features a smaller ensemble of Ishna - tenor Ciaran Nagle, violinist/vocalist Tara Novak, and accordionist/pianist David McGrory. The repertoire focuses on some lesser-known Irish art songs, ballads, and classical-styled arrangements by both the performers and other Irish composers of instrumental airs, jigs, and reels.

Curious what this sounds like? Here are some links to similar styled recordings and live performances by Ciaran & Tara:.

Red is the Rose
Meeting of the Waters
The Coolin
a Kildare Wedding

You can find more information on the artists on their webpages and social media, as well as on the band Ishna’s website


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Supported by:

Von Weber Trust   Smyth Trust   Memton Fund   Getty Foundation   Getz Charitable Trust   Grimshaw Gudewicz Foundation   Eppes‑Jefferson Foundation   Amphion Foundation   Alchemy Foundation   Merrill Family Charitable Fund   Boote Fund   Hoffman Family Foundation