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Frank la Rocca – “Requiem for the Forgotten” for choir, string orchestra, organ and harp (Benedict XVI Choir & Orchestra, conductor Richard Sparks). CD Review, the 15th of April 2024

Cappella Records is a record company founded in Portland 33 years ago, which releases projects dedicated to Christian music - vocal and instrumental, ranging from medieval period to the contemporary one. The label's most recent album features two creations by Frank La Rocca, a 73-year-old North American musician, composer and professor who taught music theory and composition at California State University.

A prolific creator of liturgical pieces, Frank La Rocca released an album last year with the Mass of the Americas, written for the Choir and Orchestra of the Benedict the 16th Institute in San Francisco conducted by Richard Sparks. For the same ensemble in which he serves as composer-in-residence, Frank La Rocca recently created two more scores - Requiem for the Sick and Requiem for the Forgotten, released on record on the 15th of March at Capella Records.

From this album, I propose Requiem for the Forgotten, a moving, deeply spiritual work that evokes the abandoned, forgotten or displaced. Structured in eight parts, the composition also includes anHymn for Ukraine, resonating with the tragic war in that country. The text of the hymn is by James Matthew Wilson and pays tribute to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest Andrei Ischak, who was killed in 1941 by the Russian Communists and beatified in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

In the text that introduces the score, composer Frank la Rocca confesses his Ukrainian origins on his mother's side, who fled the Bolshevik oppression last century, and says: "I have harmonised this poem in the manner of the story of an old legend, a heroic tale for the children of future generations".

In addition to the Hymn for Ukraine (the third in the structure of the score), the Requiem for the Forgotten contains seven sections: Introduction, Kyrie, Offertory, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Meditation and Pie Jesu. The music of the work reveals both the extraordinary mastery of the composer Frank La Rocca, as well as his simplicity and humility in his treatment of sacred creation, putting the liturgical text and the spiritual value of the piece performed by the Choir and Orchestra 'Benedict the 16th" above his own affirmation as a musician. Soloists - mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte, tenors Timothy Hodges and John Ramseyer.

Larisa Clempuș