Symphony Chorus season premieres with Beethoven
Beethoven's great choral work, the Mass in C, is the ideal choice for the Honolulu Symphony Chorus' first concert of the season. The relatively unknown Mass is a musical gem; experiencing it is wholly satisfying.
Honolulu Symphony and Honolulu Symphony Chorus perform works of Haydn and Beethoven:
In concert: 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday
Place: Hawaii Theatre
Tickets: $21 to $74, available only at Hawaii Theatre, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays
Call: 528-0506 or visit www.hawaiitheatre.com
Also: "Concert Conversation" takes place immediately after the concerts and is free to ticket-holders.
If you're unfamiliar with the Mass as an art form, you've got plenty of company. Full symphonic Masses are rarely performed in church these days. The Mass is a traditional choral work that sets the words of the liturgy -- the formal parts of a religious service -- to music, often with a full symphony orchestra. It normally has five movements, and most were written in the Catholic Church tradition and sung in Latin.
Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy II, who commissioned Beethoven to write the Mass in 1807, basically panned its first performance. Historians tell us that the prince was used to the Masses of Haydn and didn't take to Beethoven's unique style. Rather than solo arias, Beethoven wrote for a quartet of soloists and chorus; instead of alternating orchestra and chorus, the chorus performs as part of the orchestra, singing along with the orchestral part.
Although the Mass eventually became popular, it's no surprise that Beethoven waited some 15 years before attempting another one, his majestic "Missa Solemnis."
Our concerts fit in perfectly with the season's trend toward new experiences. For starters, we're presenting a beautiful yet rarely performed work that many chorus members are enjoying for the first time. And we'll perform at the historic Hawaii Theatre instead of our usual venue, the Blaisdell Concert Hall. As superb a location as the theater is, it is considerably smaller than the concert hall, so our creativity has been tested in new ways, such as how to fit everyone on stage.
Another first is that the chorus will be conducted by Julian Wachner in his Hawaii debut. Maestro Wachner is a remarkable musician: a critically acclaimed conductor, choir- master, composer, recording artist and organist. Also making their Hawaii debuts are the four dynamic opera stars who form our quartet of soloists: Kendra Colton, soprano; Laura Vlasak Nolen, mezzo-soprano; John McVeigh, tenor; and Philip Horst, bass-baritone.
Personally, the Mass in C will be a huge first for me as well, the first time that the chorus performs with me in my dual roles as manager of the chorus and executive director of the Oahu Choral Society.
Joining the symphony after practicing law for 21 years was a major change. This concert will confirm, for me, that choosing music over litigation was best. It is at once both thrilling and nerve-wracking. But, a sense of calm prevails. I am confident that the chorus will, as always, sing masterfully.
Singing -- for recreation and enjoyment -- has always played a meaningful role in my life as I've sung with the University of Hawaii Chorus, Hawaii Opera Theatre Chorus and the Kawaiolaonapukanileo Hawaiian a cappella ensemble. To me, music is simply the spice of life!
This weekend's concerts are a tremendous opportunity to hear one of Beethoven's masterpieces in a smaller, more intimate venue. Don't miss this rare opportunity to experience the expressive splendor of the Mass in C.
is executive director of the Oahu Choral Society. "Crescendo"
appears on the Monday prior to each concert to illuminate works to be performed. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org