From Music Director Daniel Meyer
With the amazing wealth of music available to us in the realm of symphonies, concertos, overtures, and tone poems, it’s easy to overlook one of the most important genres of any major composer’s output: sacred choral music. For centuries, some of the most significant music to come into the classical repertoire had some genesis in the church. Whether it was through the sheer practical need to create music for worship (Palestrina, Bach, Monteverdi, Mozart, Haydn) or inspired to make a grand statement about existence (Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Britten War Requiem, Brahms Requiem), sacred music has loomed large and contains some of the deepest musical statements we have in the repertoire.
Beethoven created two masterpieces using the traditional format of the Roman Catholic Mass. The first is an expressive and dramatic gem, the Mass in C. Commissioned by the same prince who supported Haydn’s copious sacred music, Beethoven’s foray into the genre is rife with highly descriptive musical gestures that beautifully encapsulate the emotions and rich visual imagery embedded in the text. For me, Beethoven treats the Mass more like a libretto for a dramatic oratorio than a sober statement of faith. Beethoven couldn’t help himself. Faced with the task to create a musical monument, he imbued a traditional format with living, breathing fire, fear, exultation, and love. It’s a special piece, and it’s one I’ve been looking forward to programming with the musicians of the Erie Philharmonic and Erie Philharmonic Chorus. I’m also pleased that Becky Ryan has prepared a select chorus from Mercyhurst University to join forces with us, and we have also cast an excellent vocal solo quartet from the Pittsburgh Opera. Please join us in celebrating another season of great music with the Erie Philharmonic with the glory of Beethoven and his special Mass in C.