Sacred Music 2015 Program Notes

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Good Friday 2015 concert of spiritual, meditative music begins with music by the popular Englishman Sir John Tavener (1944 –2013). He was trained traditionally at the Royal Academy of Music, and as his life and career developed, Tavener’s character and music became more spiritual and contemplative, eventually leading him to turn to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977. Song for Athene was written in 1993 as a tribute to a young family friend of Tavener’s named Athene who died in a cycling accident. Athene’s love of acting and of the music of the Orthodox Church led the composer to combine words from Shakespeare’s Hamlet with words from the Orthodox funeral service. The work became part of popular culture after it was performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.
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Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Program Notes.

Passio Program Notes

The shining beacon of Pärt’s tintinnabuli technique, and one of his most important works is “Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Joannem” or The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to John – his St. John Passion or known more simply as Passio. It was finished in 1982, shortly after Pärt and his family were allowed out of Soviet-controlled Estonia and emigrated to the West. Passio is a setting of the story of the crucifixion of Christ from chapters 18 and 19 of the biblical gospel of St. John.
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Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Program Notes.

Festival of Carols 2014 Program Notes

One of the joys of Christmas is its predictability. Every year, we associate the Christmas season with familiar images, tastes, activities, objects and sounds. Santa Claus and Ebenezer Scrooge, Handel’s Messiah and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, roast turkey and cranberry sauce, mistletoe and eggnog…….. brass instruments and choral voices. They all provide a joyous, festive and warm mood to which we enjoy returning year after year.
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Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Program Notes.

Mozart and Haydn Program Notes

After almost thirty years as Kapellmeister to the court of Esterháza, Joseph Haydn was let go in 1790 becoming a very successful freelance composer. The Esterházys awarded him a pension, allowing for a comfortable retirement, and stipulated that Haydn’s one remaining task be to compose and direct a new mass once a year to honour the name-day of Princess Marie Esterházy. The last six masses by Haydn were all for this purpose, the most famous being the so-called “Lord Nelson” Mass.
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Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Program Notes.

Sacred Music for a Sacred Space 2014 Program Notes

Program notes for Toronto Mendelssohn Choir concert on April 18, 2014 – Sacred Music for a Sacred Space – at St. Paul’s Basilica. Notes by music reviewer and lecturer Rick Phillips.
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Categories: 2013-2014 Season and Program Notes.

Bach B Minor Mass Program Notes

Program notes for Toronto Mendelssohn Choir concert on Mar 26, 2014 – Mass in B Minor – at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning. Notes by music reviewer and lecturer Rick Phillips.
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Categories: 2013-2014 Season and Program Notes.

Britten at 100 Program Notes

Program notes for Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Nov 20, 2013 concert – Britten at 100 – at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. Notes written by music broadcaster Rick Phillips.
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Categories: 2013-2014 Season and Program Notes.

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis Program Notes

When you come right down to it, Beethoven didn’t compose a lot of choral music. There are three early works - the under-rated Mass in C, the rarely-performed oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives and the Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 80. Of course, there are choruses in the opera Fidelio before his last two choral masterpieces - the finale to the Symphony No. 9, and the great Missa Solemnis.
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Categories: 2012-2013 Season and Program Notes.

Sacred Music for a Sacred Space 2013 Program Notes

Except for a couple of years at the Dresden Court, Antonio Lotti (c.1647-1740) spent his career in Venice, working his way up from singer to organist to maestro di cappella at St. Mark’s Basilica. Lotti was an innovative composer of almost thirty operas, but in his sacred music he tended to rely on the great traditions of Renaissance polyphony. J.S. Bach, G.F. Handel and Felix Mendelssohn all knew and admired his music. Today he is known almost exclusively for his many settings of the Crucifixus text from the Credo of the mass. Why he wrote so many has remained a mystery but it may have been for insertion into mass settings by other composers.
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Categories: 2012-2013 Season and Program Notes.

Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle Program Notes

During the decades of the early 19th century, Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868) dominated the world of Italian opera in both the comic and serious categories. The Barber of Seville, Tancredi, Semiramide, Cinderella, The Italian Girl in Algiers, The Silken Ladder, The Thieving Magpie and William Tell are all still staged today.
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Categories: 2012-2013 Season and Program Notes.