Your cross-cultural connection for extraordinary spiritual music
Of Western and African traditions. Experience the Joy, Share the Hope
“ Brilliant layers of tension and release, heart and power, bringing great joy to sing and hear!”
--Dr. Lee Egbert, Artistic Director Alpine Chorale and Director of Choral Activities, CSU
The truck stopped to let a small family of baboons cross the road. After the baboons sauntered across, the small pick up truck continued to wind its way along the bumpy road back to the city. In the back of the truck were ten villagers, my wife and I (and our luggage), three live chickens and a slaughtered goat that was wrapped in newspaper and nestled beneath my knees. I leaned towards my wife and said, “I do believe we are finally in Zimbabwe!”
We had just attended a two-night, dusk-to-dawn funeral ceremony in a small village outside Harare. To pass the time on the day in between, my wife and I hired one of the villagers to give us a Shona language lesson. During our lesson we were also given a more detailed account of the ceremony and an explanation of the prayers and proverbs used. It was then I realized how much it resembled the settings I knew from childhood. The overall f low of the music in their ceremony, as well as its proportions, was very similar to many of the Masses I had heard and studied. Of course, the timing of the all-night ceremony and many details were different. But the cumulative effect felt familiar somehow. The Mass is the Eucharistic (Holy Communion) celebration in the Roman Catholic Church, and many of its elements are contained within the Anglican, Lutheran, and other Protestant traditions. The texts of the Mass Proper change from week to week, according to the liturgical season and day, while the words of the Mass Ordinary are fixed. Composers throughout the centuries have been inspired by the ancient texts of the Mass Ordinary. Countless musical settings of the Mass have been composed for liturgical and concert performance.
Misa Tariro (Mass of Hope) is a series of prayers written for choir and Zimbabwean marimbas. My text draws from five of the six sections of the Ordinary Mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei (the Credo is omitted) and from sacred Shona proverbs and prayers. Misa Tariro also includes two original sections that define the purpose and specific meaning of my composition: Ishe Todzungaira (Great Leader, We are Wandering) and Tariro (Hope). Misa Tariro prays for mercy, peace and hope for those impacted by HIV/AIDS. The text I chose is the ancient Greek and Latin texts from the Mass. For the Shona text, I took the Latin prayers and gave their English translations to several musicians, spiritual leaders, poets and friends from Zimbabwe. I asked them how they would express the same idea. Most gave me a direct translation, but also gave me other more culturally and thematically appropriate prayers and proverbs. Misa Tariro is a bridge between the exuberance and spontaneity of the music I experienced in the village outside Harare and the forms and structures with which I was raised in both schools and churches in America.
I wrote Misa Tariro to inspire hope and promote awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis around the world. Many years have come and gone since I attended that ceremony in Zimbabwe. The young man who gave us the Shona lesson
is now late (has passed on), as are many of our friends and teachers. Visitors now bring pictures and tell stories of homes and schools packed with AIDS orphans; the situation there is desperate. There is not one friend or teacher of ours in Zimbabwe who has not been devastated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I dedicate Misa Tariro to my Zimbabwean friends and teachers, their joyful smiles through their tears, their beautiful music that has touched my heart and all who have been affected by HIV/AIDS around the world.
I would like to thank the Boulder County Arts Alliance, NeoData and the Boulder Arts Commission for their generous grant funding, the Boulder Chorale for the commission of the completion of Misa Tariro, Timothy Snyder for his trust in my writing, Lee Egbert for his encouragement, Darcie Sanders for her genius and Lenny Karpel for his technical mentoring. I also owe a great debt to Farai and Godswill Makombe, Zivanai Masango Paul Mataruse, Sheasby Matiure and Jennifer Kyker for their assistance in Shona translations. Kutandara Marimba members displayed much patience with me as I wrote and finalized the music and I appreciate their support and musicianship. Dana and Byron Moffet were instrumental in my completion of the Mass as they hosted me at their home on Whidbey Island on numerous writing retreats. My deepest gratitude, though, is to my loving, talented and patient wife, Amy Stewart McIntosh, for her belief in me.
----R. (“Randy”) Seaton McIntosh
(Click here for Randy's Resume)
|Grant Support & Sponsorships
Boulder County Arts Alliance
NeoData Foundation Fellowship
Boulder Arts Commission
The Boulder Chorale
Q & A
What is unique about The Misa Tariro?
The Misa Tariro (“Mass of Hope in Shona) is a cross-cultural celebration of the power of spiritual music The chorale sings ancient Latin and Greek text in combination with Shona poems and proverbs from the 2000-year old Zimbabwean tradition. The marimbas (which in Shona translate as “wooden voices”), provide the energetic pulse and soulful heartbeat
What is the history?
Work on this massive, 6-movement undertaking began in 2001, shortly after Colorado composer Randall “Randy” McIntosh returned from a NeoData Musical Composition Fellowship in Zimbabwe. While there he attended ceremonies and witnessed how villages use music to create community. After experiencing an all-night ceremony, Mr. McIntosh wanted to capture the flow of energy and responsive spirit of this type of music and worship in a major composition of appropriate depth and scope. He saw parallels between the African ceremonies and the spiritual journey of a Mass.
What is the inspiration?
In the composer’s own words:
Beyond the wonderful musical form, beyond the energetic zeal of the instruments and my hopes to widen the horizons of musical capabilities for musicians, singers, and audiences alike, I have to stress that the ultimate inspiration for this work lies in the impressive resiliency of the Zimbabwean peoples in the face of their unbelievable hardships.
The joy of my composition is the artistic expression of the joy of the Zimbabwean—and human---spirit. This continues to live and love, give thanks, make music and dance and somehow persevere. That is why I have named it Misa Tariro: The Mass of Hope.
What benefit/impact will the premiere event have for the community?
Here is an extraordinary opportunity for audiences to cross-pollinate. The Misa Tariro is fundamentally a collaborative experience, which encourages cross-cultural and cross-genre involvement between players and audiences of the African (Kutandara Center) and Classical (The Choir) traditions. Individuals experience a broadening of their musical horizons and the organizations experience broadening of their audiences.
What sorts of reviews have the previews been getting?
… those who play, sing, and hear his music are led to different musical places than those usually encountered. His scores offer brilliant layers of tension and release, heart and power, bringing great joy to sing and hear. Central to his style is an unusual harmonic clarity as a background for the strength of his combined liturgical and Shona texts.-- Dr. Lee Egbert, Conductor-Artistic Director of the Alpine Chorale and Director of Choral Activities, CSU