Ten albums whose music influenced this modern composer of sacred music.
If you are a Facebook user, you’ve probably seen “ten-day challenges.” For example, one FB friend of mine is halfway through a “Life is Good Challenge,” so she’s posted a different photo from an unforgettable moment in her life every day for five days so far, and she has five more to go. Some people don’t like those sort of things, but I do—because, as it probably goes without saying, you learn things about your friends that you might never have otherwise known.
So I was happy that I chanced across ten album covers posted by sacred music composer Frank La Rocca in response to a challenge from his daughter.
La Rocca is the Composer in Residence for the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship. I interviewed him here about his Mass of the Americas (MOTA). MOTA premiered on the West Coast at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco at an ordinary form Mass and was then was adapted for a traditional Latin pontifical Mass that premiered on the East Coast, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, D.C. Amazingly, at both Masses, the cathedrals were packed. The Mass of the Americas is only one of La Rocca’s many well-received secular and sacred music compositions. As Dappled Things editor Bernardo Aparicio noted in an email when I pitched this idea, La Rocca is also the composer of “A Rose in Winter,” an Oratorio about Saint Rita of Cascia, for whom DT friend Matthew Lickona was the librettist. You can read a perceptive review of MOTA by a fellow composer here. You can listen to the prologue to A Rose in Winter here. And you can find more about La Rocca and his other works here.
Following are Frank La Rocca’s ten-day challenge posts in his own words. Album covers are clickable video clips of samples from the albums, when available. I think you’ll agree there is at least one surprise in this list.
Frank La Rocca: My daughter Genevieve La Rocca challenged me to post 10 albums that have influenced my musical taste—one record a day for 10 days. Working on a roughly chronological series, here they are in the order in which I encountered these albums as I grew up.
Day #1: Arthur Rubinstein: The Chopin Collection
This extract is Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” Op. 64 No. 1 in D Flat
FLR: This album is the first classical music I ever heard, and even at age 7, I was captivated.
Day #2: Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time OutFLR: I heard this when I was 9 or 10. Thus began a lifelong love of walking bass and drum solos.
Day #3: Count Basie Orchestra: E= MC2This extract is the tune, After Supper
FLR: My father played trumpet in the Big Bands of the 40’s and 50’s and hearing him play live set me on a course to become a musician from an early age. He loved Count Basie, and so do I.
Day #4: Beatles: Rubber Soul
FLR: Well, I guess it’s time to get to the Beatles.
Day #5: Switched-On Bach, Walter Carlos on the MOOG Synthesizer
FLR: Go ahead and laugh, but this is what first made me love the music of J.S. Bach. I was so obsessed with this album that my freshman college roommates hid it from me so they didn’t have to listen to it every day.
Day #6: Schubert: Der Winterreise. Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, Baritone; Gerald Moore, PianoFLR: At the halfway point, I’m going to have to choose very carefully, because there are simply too many. This one definitely makes the cut. Linguistically, musically, vocally, affectively this opened new worlds to me.
Day #7: Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps. Minnesota Orchestra Conducted by Antal Dorati
FLR: I was blessed to have a freshman roommate who had gone through the Juilliard Prep program, and he introduced me to a lot of great music, including this, the ‘Eroica’ of the 20th C. This was my gateway to (good) modern music.