Mass of the Americas
Thursday, September 28, 2023
By Frank LaRocca
Tuesday October 3rd 7:00 pm.Epiphany Catholic Church - 8235 S.W. 57 Avenue, Miami, Fl, 33143.
Richard Carrillo, Conductor
Frost School of Music
St. John Neumann
Many people post selfies from glamorous vacation spots. Richard Carrillo’s selfies were with yellowed, centuries-old sheet music. The texts, at archives in Mexico City, touched him at two of his deepest levels. Going back to the 16th and 17th centuries, they're the first-known compositions in the language of his Aztec ancestors — and they're Catholic songs and prayers. “Those are my roots. This is where it all started,” Carrillo said gleefully at St. John Neumann Church, where he directs the choir.
He's organizing a Mass that blends Aztec and European heritages. The “Mass of the Americas,” by Los Angeles composer Frank La Rocca, will have its Miami premiere at 7:00 pm Oct. 3rd at Epiphany Church.
Carrillo plans to gather a 15-piece orchestra with 150 singers from St. Thomas University, the University of Miami and parishes around the archdiocese. But it will be a real worship service, with Father José Alvarez, pastor at Epiphany, as the celebrant. That’s important to Carrillo, who will produce the Mass as part of a doctoral thesis for the University of Miami. “To me, it’s about blending a faith experience with a music experience,” he said. “If music helps me express my joy in the Eucharist, why not share it?”
The “Mass of the Americas” earns its name well. It’s a double tribute to Mary: both as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States, and as Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Mexico and all the Americas. First performed in 2018, the Mass blends classical music with traditional Mexican music — plus lyrics in Latin with some in Nahuatl, the indigenous language of the Aztecs.