Harmony – Newburyport Choral Society Spring 2018 Concert Wrap-up


Audience members who attended the NCS 2018 Spring Concert expressed their enthusiastic appreciation with standing ovations for a grand and majesticprogram that featured the more recent Levin version of Mozart’s beloved Requiem and the rarely performed music of a maverick 18th century Czech composer, Jan Dismas Zelenka. The concert demanded a virtuoso performance by the 150 NCS singers, a 17 piece professional orchestra, and 4 soloists.  From the opening Zalenka pieces to the final notes of the Requiem, audience membersheard a mixture of complex harmonies and syncopations, passages bursting with energy, and sections that moved from peaceful contemplation to powerful explosions of sound.

In the first half of the concert NCS performed two Zalenka pieces, Dixit Dominus and Miserere,   both of which offered intriguing examples of his harmonic inventiveness and exceptional counterpoint.  The chorus and orchestra were equally featured in passages where a major theme was mixed with constantly overlapping parts across the different sections of the chorus, constantly changing tempos, and music that had a driving energy from beginning to end.  The Miserere was conducted by NCS Assistant Conductor John Verkuilen.

There are few pieces more well-known than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Messa da Requiem which comprised the second half of the concert.  Written at the very end of his life, it was left unfinished and the most often performed version was completed by his student Franz Xavier Süssmayr. The Requiem has been completed by other composers throughout history, and NCS presented the most virtuosic and exciting of those completions – one by eminent Harvard University musicologist and Mozart scholar, Professor Emeritus Robert Levin.  A number of current critics and musicians consider Levin’s by far the most successful at restoring the essence of Mozart’s original style and spirit while leaving intact where possible the invaluable and familiar work of Süssmayr and other early contributors to the completion of the score.

Audience members who heard the Requiem for the first time had the opportunity to discover its majesty and beauty. Those who were familiar with the traditional Sussmayr completion of the Requiem heard wonderful surprises in Levin’s completion in which he has introduced important new musical material – perhaps the most striking was the Amen fugue at the end of the Lacrimosa.

NCS is known for bringing outstanding young professional soloists to perform with the chorus. This concert featured coloratura soprano Jennifer Soloway, tenor Alex Nishibunk, mezzo-soprano Christina English, and baritone Lawson Daves. These soloists have hadtitle roles in opera productions and concert appearances in Boston and across the United States.  Lead instrumentalist will included NCS accomplished  accompanist Dr. Kirsten Helgeland on the piano and organ. Dr. Hegeland holds degrees in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Cinncinnati and has appeared as a guest artist on WGBH-Radio’s Chamberworks.








Dr. Case and Dr. Helgeland

Photo Credit:  Jeremiah True Photography

This program is supported in part by grants from the Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, and West Newbury Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

Author: ncsadmin

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