Frank Martin – Mass for double choir

Week 1B  July 19th–25th 2020
Choir project with Maarten Ophiel van Leer


“Music, the word we use in our everyday language, is nothing less than the picture of our Beloved. It is because music is the picture of our Beloved that we love music.”

– Hazrat Inayat Khan

The Swiss composer Frank Martin (Geneva 1890 – Naarden 1974) wrote his Mass for double choir in 1922 and 1926. He writes:  „I saw her as a thing between me and God. For forty years she had to wait for her first performance. What drew me to the Mass – as did so many other musicians – was first of all the text, but also this form, which is admirable in and of itself, both aesthetically and psychologically. I was then 32 years old.“

Frank Martin continues the Venice tradition of the double choir with two groups of singers placed spatially apart, each group expressing the text within rich rhythmic and harmonic texture. The double choir setting enables wonderful effects of impulse and answer, of expression and its reflexion.

Since its first performance in 1963, Martin’s Mass has become one of his most frequently performed works and is widely seen as one of the major a-capella choral works of the 20th century. In the different movements, the music captures the impulse and emotion of the ancient texts in their essence and in such a deeply embracing way, that a universal language of man and his connection with the divine is heard and experienced. This is so much more true for the singers!

We welcome you to immerse yourself in this wonderful music. You must be an experienced singer for this project and willing to acquire and study the score beforehand. For this purpose a website with recordings of all choir parts will be made available.

Towards the end of the week, 2 concerts are planned on the evening of 24 July 2020 in the beautiful church of Olivone and on the afternoon of 25 July in Mendrisio in the south of Ticino.

Maarten Ophiel van Leer

studied choir and orchestra conducting and school music in Holland. For the past 35 years he has conducted major choral and oratorio works of all eras and has been engaged in music, voice and meditation for many years. In the alps camps of the zenith institute Ophiel assisted its founder, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in leading musical activities since the late 70s and continues to do so. He leads choirs in the Frankfurt area and teaches music at the Steiner School Wiesbaden.

The effect of music on the human being has always fascinated him. He developed concepts for seminars, in which in addition to choral singing, Improvisation, meditation and overtone singing is integrated.

As a co-founder of the association “Music for Peace and Mutual Understanding” (, Ophiel conducts peace concerts with Bach’s Mass in B minor in various European countries and up to the Holy Land.