ROCHESTER, NY — It’s not everyday that you get the chance to hear a live performance of Beethoven’s choral masterpiece Missa Solemnis. But Rochester audiences will have that chance at 8 p.m., Friday, April 16, in Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.), thanks to the Eastman-Rochester Chorus.
The monumental work — considered one of the most significant settings of the mass text, alongside Bach’s B-minor Mass — will unite the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra with the college-community Eastman-Rochester Chorus in the large-scale production involving more than 200 performers. (The 55-member Eastman Chorale also will lend their voices for the performance.) William Weinert, professor of conducting and ensembles at Eastman since 1994, will conduct the free concert. Featured soloists include Eastman students Mari-Yan Pringle, soprano; Abigail Fischer, mezzo-soprano; Min Jin, tenor; and Ted Christopher, bass-baritone.
“Missa Solemnis is a supreme challenge for choruses, soloists, and orchestras,” said Weinert. “Beethoven viewed the writing of this work as a chance to revisit and challenge the ideas of traditional Christianity late in his life, and to probe their essence through music.”
Beethoven’s masterpiece exudes a strong religious faith, as well as a tremendous struggle with that faith. The composer dedicated four years near the end of his life perfecting Missa Solemnis — the longest amount of time he devoted to any composition. Ironically, the work is designed for concert performance rather than church use.
The community based Eastman-Rochester Chorus presents several major choral works each year in collaboration with Eastman orchestras, as well as the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The 150-member chorus unites individuals from the Rochester community with students from the Eastman School. Recent performances include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Brahms’ German Requiem, and Haydn’s The Seasons.