FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM EUGENE CONCERT CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA
Eugene Vocal Arts & Eugene Concert Orchestra present Haydn’s rare, triumphant masterpiece with spare instrumentation – only string, trumpets and timpani – in the Lord Nelson Mass November 10th
Diane Retallack will conduct the Haydn Lord Nelson Mass November 10th at Beall Concert Hall, performed by Eugene Vocal Arts & Eugene Concert Orchestra. Considered by critics to be his greatest work, it was written when Napoleon was threatening Europe and thus the instrumentation is spare – only string, trumpets and timpani – in this time of “austerity” the wind players were released. Audiences won’t want to miss this rare, triumphant masterpiece!
EUGENE, OR (Oct 18, 2017)—The nationally award-winning Eugene Vocal Arts & Eugene Concert Orchestra, with Diane Retallack, artistic director and conductor, invite audiences to bask in the magnificent acoustics of Beall Concert Hall on Friday, November 10th at 7:30pm for an evening of music to stir your soul with the opening concert of our 43rd season featuring the Haydn Lord Nelson Mass.
Imagine the anxiety and tension of those living in Europe in the summer of 1798. Napoleon had conquered much of Europe, Austria was under his domain, and only England, with her superior fleet on the seas, had yet held off his advance. Napoleon had sailed the French navy to Egypt and had already occupied Cairo, with plans to move on to India and beyond. But on August 1, in a dramatic attack through uncharted shoals, Admiral Horatio Nelson of Britain destroyed Napoleon’s fleet at Aboukir in the great Battle of the Nile, and Napoleon’s advance to the east was stopped. News of this stunning victory would have reached Austria in mid September, just one week before the first performance of Haydn’s new Mass in D, on September 23, 1798 in Eisenstadt. As was frequently the case with Haydn’s compositions, a “nickname” became attached to it, and this great mass has since been titled the Lord Nelson Mass.
Haydn began composition of his third great mass on July 10, 1798. Austria was under French domination, and it was a time of austerity. Prince Nikolaus II had dismissed the wind players from the court orchestra, and Haydn composed this mass scored only for strings, trumpets, timpani and organ. In the hands of the great master Haydn, the austere instrumentation only added to the drama and intensity, and Haydn titled this mass Missa in Angustiis, or “Mass in time of Austerity.” The obbligato organ hauntingly fulfills the role of the woodwind instruments, and the trumpets and timpani punctuate the powerful opening “Kyrie” (Lord have mercy) and the triumphant and hopeful final movement “Dona nobis pacem” (Grant us peace). Although Haydn could not have yet known about the victory of Admiral Lord Nelson at Aboukir when he completed the mass on August 31 (a mere 53 days in its entirety), the audience would have attended the first performance on September 23 with the news of stunning victory in the air.
The theme of this concert is Tragedy and Triumph. Our program begins with J. S. Bach’s spirited motet Lobet den Herrn, performed by Eugene Vocal Arts and Eugene Concert Orchestra. It is a joyful praise to the Lord which sets the opening mood of the concert in a state of normalcy. But Eugene Vocal Arts turns the mood toward a surreal, twilight-zone, other-worldy experience with Ed London’s “Bach/Again,” based on the J.S. Bach choral “Come Sweet Death.” We then invite audiences to open their hearts and experience the glory of the Jürgen Ahrend pipe organ of Beall Concert Hall, as special guest and celebrated organist Barbara Baird joins Eugene Concert Orchestra to perform the Albinoni Adagio, one of the most heart-wrenching compositions ever written, which elicits such a universal sense of tragedy and grief that it has entered popular culture. Portions of the Adagio have been used as movie soundtrack music for over 30 films, from the early 1960s in Orson Welles’ adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial through Gallipoli, Rollerball, Dragonslayer, Flashdance andthe most recent 2016 film Manchester by the Sea, as well as television programs such as The Sopranos and popular music recordings. Eugene Vocal Arts pulls us out of the depths with a defiant, intense, rhythmically driving a cappella choral piece, “Invictus,” by young American composer Casey Rule. It is a setting of the famous poem by William Ernest Henley which concludes with the triumphant words: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” The playful joy of innocent times returns with the popular Pachelbel “Cannon” and Eugene Vocal Arts concludes the first half of the concert with a stirring choral piece entitled “We Rise Again.” The Haydn Mass will be featured in the second half of the concert.
Eugene Vocal Arts & Eugene Concert Orchestra
Diane Retallack, Conductor
Barbara Baird, Organist
Kari Burgess, soprano
Hannah Penn, alto
Stephen Rumph, tenor
Zachary Lenox, bass