Elaine Agnew


Type of Work: Vocal/Choral
Instrumentation: Choir (satb)
Length: 12 minutes
Text: Latin Church Mass
Premiere: 17 May 1991, RSAMD Glasgow. RSAMD Chamber Choir, conductor Ewan Anderson


Missa Brevis was composed as part of my postgraduate composition studies at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 1991.  The three parts that I choose from the Latin church mass show variety in terms of mood and texture. 

The opening Kyrie is quiet and calm, characterised by soft semitone clashes and inner pedal notes.  The central Sanctus is repetitive and energetic in style, its opening section restricted to 5 pitches which are then used as building blocks for the triumphant chords of Hosanna in Excelsis.   The Agnus Dei is free and expressive with simple duet writing interrupted by forceful 8-part chords.  The final Dona nobis pacem refers back to the Hosanna chords.
Missa Brevis was performed by the National Chamber Choir as part of International Woman’s Day in 1994 and in the National Concert Hall during Music Now! in 1995.  The Kaunas Chamber Choir performed Missa Brevis in Lithuania during the 2002 IŠ ARTI Festival.