Mozart unites orchestra and choirs, students and alumni

Lauren Osborne

The Lawrence Symphony Orchestra and choirs will close their 2001-2002 season on Saturday, June 1st. The final concert will be held at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel and will feature W. A. Mozart’s “Great” Mass in C Minor, K. 427 as the annual orchestral-choral collaborative event.Mozart’s “Great” Mass was first performed in August of 1783 at St. Peter’s Church in Salzburg, Austria. The work reflects what conductor Richard Bjella refers to as “eclectic” influences, including J. S. Bach, C. P. E. Bach, Handel, and modern and archaic Italian traditions.

Unfortunately, no records remain that indicate in what form the work was originally performed. The Mass available to us today is incomplete. The Agnus Dei and pieces of the Credo are altogether missing.

Despite its status as an incomplete work, the Great Mass is hailed as one of Mozart’s finest liturgical works. Ironically, the Requiem, also one of the best of Mozart’s sacred and vocal catalogues, was also left incomplete.

When asked about the concert, conductor Richard Bjella pointed out that it will be the only work of Mozart’s to be performed by either the choirs or the orchestra during this season. Although the groups have performed J. S. Bach, Tchaikovsky, Ives, and Takemitsu, the end of the season will have a distinctly classical flavor. Bjella noted that this was an excellent educational opportunity for all individuals involved to perform a great work of the classical period.

The Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, Concert Choir, Women’s Choir, Chorale, and the White Heron Chorale will all be performing on Saturday.

In addition to these ensembles, the group will feature four soloists, all of whom are Lawrence alumni. The soloists for the performance include Sarah Dionne (‘97), KrisAnne Weiss (‘96), Chad Freeburg (‘99), and Keith Harris (‘98).

In rehearsals, the ensembles have been working with student understudies, including Louisa Muller, Ingrid Lestrud, Ricardo Lesperance, and Jerry Tietz. Bjella emphasized the educational opportunity for the four understudies. Besides performing in rehearsals, any of them could sing at the performance in the event that one of the alumni is unable to do so.

Those who intend to attend the performance are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance because the orchestral and choral collaborative concerts often sell out prior to the event. Tickets can be purchased from the Lawrence Box Office. The cost is Adults $10, senior citizens and students $5, LU students/faculty/staff free.