The Catholic University of America

Stations: A Group Commission Project in Honor of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music's 50th Anniversary 

Friday, Feb. 20, 7:30 PM 
Church of the Little Flower
5607 Massachusetts Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20816

14 CUA Composers Contribute New Pieces to a Time-Honored Liturgy

The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music of The Catholic University of America celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015, and the Composition division is presenting the premiere of a new 14-movement work to celebrate the occasion. 

On Friday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 PM, at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, MD, a new musical work will be premiered as part of the church's weekly Stations of the Cross liturgy.  The work consists of 14 movements for string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello); CUA student musicians will premiere this new piece at the Feb. 20 premiere. 

14 CUA composers - current students, faculty, and alumni - have joined forces to create a group work in response to each of the 14 Stations of the Cross.  The resulting work, combining the work of several generations of composers and widely diverse styles, is unified by artistic response to the events of Christ's Passion as remembered in the service. 

The Stations of the Cross service on Feb. 20 will permit worshippers to travel from Station to Station, or audience members may remain seated in the church. The string quartet will be fixed in place, seated near the first Stations; the traveling group will move farther away from the quartet with each Station. The final Station will be at the opposite side of the church from the quartet, creating a dramatic distancing effect.

The Stations of the Cross: A Brief History

The Stations of the Cross is a traditional Lenten devotional practice for Roman Catholics, typically observed each Friday during the Lenten season. 
The origin of the Stations is Jerusalem, the site of Christ’s Passion. The Via Dolorosa, or “Way of Sorrows,” marks the traditional route through the city which Jesus followed from his condemnation by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate to his crucifixion and later burial. Along the route are numerous stops, or “stations,” at which specific events are remembered (for example, Jesus Meets his Mother, Simon of Cyrene Takes up Jesus’ Cross, Jesus Falls for the First Time). These stations, inspired by Scripture or tradition, are venerated sites for prayer and devotion. 
Medieval Christians were encouraged to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to walk the Via Dolorosa and pray at the Stations. Because such a pilgrimage was beyond the means of most Christians, symbolic Stations were placed in churches throughout Europe (and, later, the world) to allow those who could not travel to Jerusalem to walk the Via Dolorosa from afar. 
While observing a traditional Stations liturgy, the presider (and/or group of worshippers) travels from Station to Station, mirroring the processional aspect of the Via Dolorosa. 

Whether celebrated by a community or by individuals, the Stations of the Cross offer a way for the faithful to enter more fully into the passion and death of the Lord and to serve as another manifestation of the pilgrim Church on its homeward journey.  (from #133, Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2000)

The 14 Stations (Images from the Stations at the Church of the Little Flower, Bethesda, MD)

I.    Jesus is Condemned to Death (Music by Joseph Santo)  


"Pilate said [to the chief priests], 'Shall I crucify your King?'  The chief priests answered,
'we have no king except Caesar.'  So at that Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified."
  [John 19:15-16]


II.    Jesus Carries His Cross (Music by Robert A. Baker)


"They [soldiers and chief priests] then took charge of Jesus, and carring his own cross he went out to the Place of the Skill or, as it is called in Hebrew, Golgotha..." [John 19:17-18]


III.   Jesus Falls the First Time (Music by Justus Parrotta)


There is no scriptural basis for this event.  Rather, it belongs to the tradition of commemorating the Passion, providing a specific example of the suffering endured by Jesus on his way to crucifixion.

IV.   Jesus Meets His Mother (Music by Stephen Gorbos)


"Jesus said to his mother, 'Woman, this is your son.'" [John 19: 26]

V.    Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross (Music by Janet Peachey)


"They led him out to crucify him.  They enlisted a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene ... who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross."  [Mark 15:21-22]


VI.   Veronica Wipes Jesus’ Face (Music by João Guilherme Ripper)


St. Veronica is not mentioned in the Gospels; however, this heroic act of mercy has become a powerful part of the Stations liturgical tradition.

VII.   Jesus Falls the Second Time (Music by Ulf Grahn)


As the Way of the Cross continues, Jesus grows ever more weary.

VIII.  Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem (Music by Amanda Bono)


"'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children.'"  [Luke 23:27]

IX.    Jesus Falls the Third Time (Music by Allen Bonde)


A final fall as the procession moves closer to Calvary.

X.     Jesus is Stripped of his Garments (Music by Maurice Saylor)


"When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier."  [John 19:23]

XI.    Jesus is Nailed to the Cross (Music by Faye Chiao)


"When they reached the place called The Skull [Golgotha], there they crucified him and the two criminals, one on his right, the other on his left." [Luke 23:33]

XII.    Jesus Dies on the Cross (Music by Andrew Earle Simpson)


"After Jesus had taken the wine he said, 'It is fulfilled'; and bowing his head he gave up his spirit."  [John 19:30]

XIII.   Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross (Music by Leo Nestor)


"...Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus...asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus.  Pilate gave permission, so [he] came and took him away."  [John 19:38-39]


XIV.  Jesus is Laid in the Tomb (Music by Matthew Condic Yost)


"So Joseph [of Arimathaea] took the body, wrapped it in a clean shroud and put it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock.  He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away."  [Matthew 27: 59-60] 


The Composers

The 14 CUA composers are listed in the order of their appearance in the piece:

1. Joseph Santo (CUA alumnus, Assistant Dean, BTRSOM)  (Jesus is Condemned to Death)

2. Robert A. Baker (Assistant Professor, BTRSOM) (Jesus Carries His Cross)

3. Justus Parrotta (DMA student, Composition) (Jesus Falls the First Time)

4. Stephen Gorbos (Assistant Professor, BTRSOM) (Jesus Meets His Mother)

5. Janet Peachey (CUA alumna) (Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross)

6. João Ripper (CUA alumnus) (Veronica Wipes Jesus’ Face)

7. Ulf Grahn (CUA alumnus) (Jesus Falls the Second Time)

8. Amanda Bono (DMA student, Composition) (Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem)

9. Allen Bonde (CUA alumnus) (Jesus Falls the Third Time)

10. Maurice Saylor (CUA alumnus, faculty/staff) (Jesus is Stripped of his Garments)

11. Faye Chiao (CUA alumna) (Jesus is Nailed to the Cross)

12. Andrew Earle Simpson (Professor, BTRSOM, Head, Theory-Composition Division) (Jesus Dies on the Cross)

13. Leo Nestor (Professor, BTRSOM, Director, Institute of Sacred Music) (Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross)

14. Matthew Condic Yost (BM student, Composition) (Jesus is Laid in the Tomb)

The Performers

Shinya Blattmann and Enrique Reynosa, violins

Dan Zhang, viola

Dorotea Racz, cello