Mozarts remarkable body of musical composition abruptly ended when he died in 1791. Three decades of his life, from five to his death at 35, had been devoted to composing. The music of his Requiem Mass became his finale.
The PGSOs most recent concert featured works from the two operas Mozart premiered in his last year of life, La Clemenza di Tito and The Magic Flute, along with the music of the Requiem. Performed in Sacred Heart Cathedral, the selections were further enhanced by the beautiful voices of soprano Erica Northcott and mezzo-soprano Melanie Nichol with baritone Nick Meyer and tenors Bruce Hoffman and Kevin Zakresky (the conductor serving in two capacities).
There was a strong and memorable opening to the program with performance of Mozarts beautiful Ave Verum Corpus, also composed in 1791. Originally written to mark the feast of Corpus Christi, it is now used to complement music of formal funerals. The combined voices of the Cantata Singers with the Richmond Chorus were brought together under the direction of Brigid Coult - to fine effect.
Then followed Parto, parto, ma tu ben mio from La Clemenza di Tito Melanie Nichol sang deliberate phrasings over the melodic notes of Simon Coles clarinet. Plaintive emotion and longing are exquisitely expressed through that instrument.
As a sidebar to the performance - dramatic interpretations of some of the central characters was played out by Brenna Corner as Constanza Mozart, Dave Leach as Count Franz von Walsegg, and Jason Dalio as Mozart himself. They interjected scenes from the end of Mozarts life in between pieces played. Acting in such close proximity to the audience was an experience for all!
Next played was Deh, perquesto instante also from La Clemenza di Tito. It was a remarkable thought that a musical score and lyrics from 222 years ago can still enchant.
Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schon from The Magic Flute provided the opportunity for Jose Delgado-Guevara to assume the conductors role while Kevin Zakresky lent his strong tenor voice to deliver the sentiment needed. Singing in German, he managed to convey appropriate feeling. More from that opera saw Melanie Nichol and Nick Meyer perform a playful rendition of Pa pa pa pa about the character Papageno, the colourful bird-catcher. Following that, Erica Northcott paired with Nick Meyer on Bei manner, welche Liebe fuhlen about the age-old theme of compromise needed in making love succeed.
The second half saw presentation of Mozarts final work, Requiem. Some parts like the Kyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are regularly featured in church music, and therefore familiar. All of it, presented with full orchestral sound and soloists backed by a massed choir created an experience one can imagine the composer intended.
Latin words set to music are especially beautiful and this performance within Sacred Heart Cathedral seemed particularly fitting. A hundred voices lifted in that setting may well have approximated what a choir of angels might actually sound like! It felt uplifting and hopeful. Overall, the performance delivered a sense of reverence as we approach the end of the Lenten season.
The PGSOs next concert is Saturday April 20th at Vanier Hall featuring young musicians from Venezuela. Leading the exciting Vivace Latino program will be guest conductor Jonathan Govias. Tickets available by calling 250-562-0800 or order online at www.pgso.com.