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K-State Today

May 2, 2019

K-State graduate student resurrects ancient Vatican music for Grammy-winning choir

Submitted by Blakely Bunning

Patrick C. Dittamo

Patrick Dittamo, graduate student in music, rediscovered and transcribed a long-forgotten 16th-century Vatican Mass, which will receive its first performance since the Renaissance this weekend in Kansas City.

Last performed nearly 500 years ago during the reign of Pope Paul III in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, the Renaissance masterpiece "Missa ad te levaviby Bartolomé de Escobedo" (c. 1505-1563) will receive its modern-day world premiere by Charles Bruffy and the Grammy-winning Kansas City Chorale at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, Missouri, with a repeat performance at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Kansas City, Missouri.

The title of the Mass, "Missa ad te levavi," relates to the Gregorian chant Mass Proper text for the first Sunday of Advent. The Kansas City Chorale will perform the piece much like it would have been performed nearly 500 years ago. The chorale and the Sistine Chapel choir of the 1540s are both 24-voice ensembles, although the Sistine Chapel choir was entirely male. The last time the Mass was heard in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Paul III himself, or a presiding cardinal, would have sung the opening chant intonations for the Gloria and Credo.

The sole surviving manuscript which contained the mass was copied by Sistine Chapel scribe Johannes Parvus in 1540-41, during the same period that Michelangelo completed painting his Sistine Chapel frescoes. Having been held in storage at the Vatican for nearly half a millennium, the original manuscript was damaged in places. Ink corrosion and bleeding affected the paper, but by using modern technology and consulting historic documents, along with the aid of training in early music notation at a Yale University summer program, partially-supported by funding from a College of Arts and Sciences travel scholarship, Dittamo was able to finish a reconstruction and transcription into modern notation in early 2019.

Tickets and more information about this historic event can be found at kcchorale.org. You can preview the "Missa ad te levavi" on YouTube

The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is a part of the College of Arts and Sciences. Visit k-state.edu/mtd to learn more.