BY NICHOLAS WHITE
This is the first in a three part series outlining the upcoming season for The Boston Cecilia. The next two articles will focus on the December and April concerts, but we begin our 141st season with a spectacular program of Handel and Mozart in Jordan Hall at The New England Conservatory in Boston. The two works to be performed are Handel’s youthful and exuberant setting of Psalm 110, Dixit Dominus, and Mozart’s oratorio that draws on the Psalms of David…and substantial quantities of music from his Great Mass in C Minor…entitled Davide Penitente. Falling during the year that would have marked the 80th birthday of my predecessor, Donald Teeters, who died exactly two years ago, this concert reflects many of Don’s musical tastes. By many accounts, Dixit Dominus was one of his favorite pieces of music.
Beyond the musical selections, however, there is another very important aspect of Donald’s work that we are honoring. After Don’s death in 2014, the Board of Directors established The Donald Teeters Fund. Several key mission-related uses for the funds have been established, and one of the purposes is to continue the engagement of new, young singers, in order to give them some exposure to Boston audiences. This was something that Don did consistently, supportively and intentionally. I am pleased to say that our excellent soloists for October 14th fall under that category, and I am excited to work with them all this Fall.
Soprano, Sarah Yanovitch is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, where she was a student of James Taylor. Recent appearances as concert soloist include such works as the Fauré Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus, and Dixit Dominus.
Soprano Emily Nöel, praised for her “sparkling performances” and “sheer vocal beauty” by The Washington Post, concertizes throughout North America and Europe in a wide variety of repertory expanding from the Medieval to the contemporary.
Countertenor, Dr. Daniel Roihl has appeared as a soloist with numerous professional choirs throughout New England and Southern California, performed at early music festivals in Bloomington and Corona del Mar, and been featured on the soundtrack of the 2007 film I Am Legend.
Tenor Alexander Nishibun’s vibrant, youthful instrument and sensitive stage presence have been characterized as “a delight…” and “capable of stealing the show with a gesture” (Portland Press Herald).
Bass, Charlie Evett is a giant in the field of a cappella bass singing. His thumping lines and Richter- scale solos powered Rockapella to national prominence, and now he is the sturdy foundation beneath The GrooveBarbers, which he co-founded.
This is my first time conducting both of these works, although my love for each of them goes back three decades. I first performed Dixit Dominus as a singer with the Cambridge University Chamber Choir in 1988. Concerts in Cambridge, London and Rome of this masterpiece, in the context of the Carmelite Vespers of 1707, sealed it as one of my all-time favorite pieces of baroque music. Shortly after this, I presented Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor (along with his oboe concerto) to an overflowing audience in Clare College Chapel. Mozart pulls in an audience, there’s no doubt about it, and this was a memorable occasion. As mentioned above, Mozart draws most of the musical material for Davide Penitente from the Kyrie and Gloria of this mass setting and adds two spectacular original solo arias.
Both of these works rely heavily on two outstanding soprano soloists, and these arias are not for the faint of heart. A memory that stays with me, from the 1988 performance of the C Minor Mass, is that I had casually asked a friend if she would sing the soprano solos for the Mozart Mass in C Minor, to which she agreed enthusiastically. One week before the performance, she contacted me all of a flutter, saying that there was no way she could do the concert. She hadn’t realized that this was not just any old Mozart mass! We found a replacement…at very short notice!
With an orchestra of Boston’s finest historically-informed players, on period instruments, at an unusual pitch of A=430 in order to perform Handel and Mozart on the same program, the five soloists named above, the dedicated and powerful chorus of The Boston Cecilia, and the elegant surroundings of Jordan Hall, this opening concert of our season is sure to have you wanting to return for Britten, Copland, Barber and others later on in the season.
The next entry in this blog will focus on Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, A Boy Was Born, Nicholas White’s Alleluia! Puer Natus Est Nobis, the Women’s Ensemble of St. Paul’s School, Concord, NH, and the two remarkable concert venues: The Church of the Advent and All Saints, Brookline.