The USC School of Music's Bernstein MASS is a giant undertaking, involving around 250 people on campus and in the community. But a full-fledged production of the MASS is not the only way it can be done.
Last summer, Claire Albrecht, fourth-year public relations student, conducted a synthesized version of the MASS, which her drum corps — The Cadets — performed as their competition piece.
“It was wild, but really, really fun,” Albrecht said.
The MASS is particularly important to her drum corps because it was the piece The Cadets played in 1983 when they won the Drum Corps International Championship for the first time.
“Everyone was just really excited, because we got to not only play the Mass — which is just phenomenal literature — but it was a nod to our first victory," Albrecht said.
Performing the MASS in this context is significantly different than the production that the School of Music will be putting on. They split the piece into three sections: “The Faithful, The Fallen, The Forgiven,” spending just a few minutes in each.
“The fans want you to kind of hit them in the face a little more than what you might expect from a concert band setting,” Albrecht said.
Despite these differences, the mission and responsibility to tell the story of the MASS remained.
"We tried to tell the main arc of the story, which is what we thought Bernstein was trying to say: that in any religion or faith you kind of go through these ups and downs with it."
Albrecht is not personally involved with the 2018 production with the School of Music, but still plans on seeing the show.
"I fully intend to go, because it's something that's really special to me," she said. "I'm just excited to see it, and see what it is in the traditional, formal sense."