Suite from "MASS"

From Wind Repertory Project
Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein (arr. Michael Sweeney)

Subtitle: For Brass Quintet and Concert Band

General Info

Year: 1971 / 2009
Duration: c. 14:55
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts - $195.00   |   Score Only - $25.00


Full Score
Solo B-flat Trumpet I-II
Solo Horn in F
Solo Trombone
Solo Tuba
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Bongos
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Crotales
  • Finger Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tom-tom
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone

Players clapping and singing


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Bernstein's MASS was a monumental 90-minute work written for the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in 1971. In this suite commissioned by the Canadian Brass and the Eastman Wind Ensemble, arranger Michael Sweeney focuses on a select number of movements, often using the brass quintet to represent the vocal lines found in the original. The striking and beautiful work includes Alleluia, Sanctus, the well-known A Simple Song, Agnus Dei, Offertory and Almighty Father.

- Program Note from publisher

Among the participants in the diverse and celebrated history of American music, there are few figures who are so commanding a force as Leonard Bernstein. His long and productive life of composing, conducting, performing, and teaching has influenced millions worldwide. Given his tremendously varied background, it should be no surprise that his 1971 MASS (stylized in all capital letters) is a grand pastiche of styles and influences spanning centuries of Western classical music. The original work was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the opening of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. An evening’s entertainment (clocking in at nearly two hours in length), the work is a spectacle incorporating orchestra, multiple choruses, actors, dancers, rock combo, and marching band. Texts utilized are not just from the traditional Latin mass and the composer himself, but also from collaborations with acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz and (to a much smaller extent) American singer/songwriter Paul Simon.

The dramatic arc of the work as a whole is a look into the celebration of a mass. The primary character, known as the Celebrant, immediately discards the unnecessarily complex counterpoint of the introductory Kyrie, instead encouraging a more direct and personal faith through A Simple Song, the work’s de facto thesis statement. Over the course of the celebration, the congregation (represented by the choirs) moves slowly from a position of acceptance to one of questioning faith in the face of trial. At the moment of greatest crisis, the Communion is interrupted by the growing dissent of the performers and the ensuing frustration of the Celebrant. At this moment when all seems lost, a sign appears in the form of a single altar boy who echoes the opening sentiment with Secret Songs. This brings the Celebrant and congregation back into harmony with each other for the final reprise of Almighty Father, as the Celebrant instructs the congregation (and, by extension, the audience) to “go in peace.”

The work was met with some controversy leading to its premiere due to beliefs that anti-war sentiments present throughout the text were a political indictment of the presidential administration -- a notion that is summarily dismissed by Nina Bernstein Simmons in her notes on MASS: “While the work is certainly anti-war and calls on ‘you people of power’ to do what is right, it is not overtly political. It is unquestionably religious.”

Suite from MASS, arranged by Michael Sweeney for the Canadian Brass and the Eastman Wind Ensemble, takes particularly memorable selections from throughout the course of MASS and sets them for featured brass quintet and full ensemble. The brass quintet most frequently takes on the role of the solo singers from the stage production. The arrangements themselves are remarkably true to the original work, though ordered differently. For instance, in the suite, A Simple Song is the middle movement and acts as the gentle centerpiece between the more virtuosic expressions of the exterior sections, as opposed to its early presentation within the full version. Part One, in contrast, sets some of the more aggressive moments of the original. While the Alleluia is jubilant, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei (which come from near the end of MASS at the moment when the congregation’s furor is at its highest) blare with sizzling cacophony. The finale sets the Offertory and Almighty Father with the beautiful sonorities of the hymn cadencing with an "Amen” sung by the ensemble. Though the medium has shifted, Sweeney’s conscientious work lets Bernstein’s voice sing through unabashedly, as always passionate and profound.

- Program Note by Jacob Wallace for the Baylor Wind Ensemble concert program, 19 December 2014


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Symphonic Winds (Roy McLerran, conductor; Stamps Brass Ensemble) - 24 September 2023
  • Bowling Green (Ohio) State University University Band (Bruce Moss, conductor) - 11 April 2023
  • Texas Christian University (Fort Worth) Symphonic Band (Brian Youngblood, conductor) - 6 December 2022
  • Baldwin-Wallace University (Berea, Ohio) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Brendan Caldwell, conductor) - 11 November 2022
  • Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond) Wind Symphony (Robert M. Schwartz, conductor) - 5 May 2022
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Ensemble (Daniel Cook, conductor) – 14 April 2022
  • Grand Street Community Band (Brooklyn, N.Y.) (David Blumenthal, conductor) - 26 March 2022
  • Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Symphonic Band (Kirt Saville, conductor; Brassworks) – 31 March 2021
  • University of North Florida (Jacksonville) Wind Symphony (Erin Bodnar, conductor) – 12 October 2020
  • United States Coast Guard Band (New London, Conn.) (Jeffrey A. Spenner, conductor; Coast Guard Band Brass Quintet) – 24 November 2019
  • Swarthmore (Penn.) College Wind Ensemble (Andrew Hauze, conductor) – 9 November 2019
  • United States Marine Band (Jason K. Fettig, conductor) – 7 September 2019 (Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.)
  • Atlanta (Ga.) Youth Wind Symphony (Scott A. Stewart, conductor) – 19 May 2019
  • Hanover Wind Symphony (Whippany, N.J.) (Matthew J, Paterno, conductor) – 23 April 2019 (ACB 2019 Annual Convention (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.))
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (John Campbell, conductor) – 16 April 2019
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Symphonic Band (Kelvin Jones, conductor; LSU Graduate Brass Quintet) – 12 March 2019
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor; Canadian Brass) – 30 January 2018
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Band (Shawn Vondran, conductor) – 7 December 2018
  • Austin (Tx.) Symphonic Band (Richard Floyd, conductor) – 18 November 2018
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University Band (Timothy Ellison, conductor) – 14 November 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Cool (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Murtha) (1957/2018)
  • West Side Story (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Sweeney) (1957/2015)

All Wind Works


  • Bernstein, L.; Sweeney, M. (2009). Suite from Mass: For Brass Quintet and Concert Band [score]. Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing: [United States].