We are so proud that Lawrence Johnson’s South Florida Classical Review named our April 2016 performances of Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass among the top 10 performances of 2016!
He said: “Although Haydn ranks among the world’s greatest composers, performances of his works are rare events in South Florida. The Master Chorale of South Florida gave a performance in April of his Lord Nelson Mass that expressed the grandeur, religious wonder and joy of the composer at the height of his powers. Led by artistic director Brett Karlin, the performance, backed by the Lynn Philharmonia Orchestra, at Fort Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church was a technically impressive, compelling evening of choral music.”
We were also thrilled that Johnson gave honorable mention to our November performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor with The Symphonia of Boca Raton, calling it “majestic.”
On the heels of an extraordinarily successful 12th season that the Palm Beach Arts Paper called "...very fine and memorable…deeply satisfying…so perfectly sung...," the Master Chorale will start this year with the greatest choral-orchestral masterwork ever created, J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor. I hope you’ll consider joining us for performances in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Boca Raton on November 18-20, because this piece is a rare treat that everyone should experience live at least once in their life!
I suppose the delineation of “greatest choral-orchestral masterwork ever created” may sound a bit hyperbolic, especially to those not familiar with the work. But I assure you it’s true. The Mass in B Minor, Bach’s only full setting of the mass (although he did compose four shorter masses using existing material from his Lutheran cantatas) is a representation of the Baroque master’s finest compositional skills. From the very first sound, a desperate cry for mercy “Kyrie eleison,” one is immediately faced with an emotional depth and musical profundity that continues to evolve over nearly two hours.
Following the “Kyrie,” we find the “Gloria” announced by a herald of trumpets and timpani in D major. Although we refer to the piece as the B Minor Mass, “Mass in D Major” may be just as good a title, as we find this bright, joyous and celebratory key throughout the work to its end. The entire “Gloria” section is filled with a variety of styles, orchestrations and musical forms: the only soprano aria in the entire work “Laudamus te,” which is actually a duet between the second soprano soloist and principal violinist; an absolutely sublime chorus of thanks, “Gratias agimus tibi,” that returns to end the piece; and aduet between the bass soloist and natural horn player, “Quoniam,” that provides the most heroic solo singing of the entire work. The work ends with one of the most infectiously exciting, exhilarating and dance-inducing movements, “Cum Sancto Spiritu.”
After listening to the “Cum Sancto Spiritu,” one begins to marvel at the amount of musical complexity within the work. Certainly, the technical and academic aspect of the music is impressive. But what makes the work truly profound was Bach’s ability to use technical prowess to illicit a sincere emotional response from listeners. Following Mass in B Minor, I’ll lead the Master Chorale Singers through a very special performance of classical music’s most popular piece for the holidays, Handel’s Messiah. Master Chorale’s December 16th performance will feature Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church’s mighty Ruffatti Pipe Organ. This is not just your average pipe organ. It’s known internationally as one of the finest instruments of its kind. Designed and quite famously played by organist Diane Bish, Coral Ridge’s pipe organ has been featured in numerous national and international broadcasts, including the well-known PBS program, The Joy of Music.
After a short holiday break for the singers, the Chorale will continue with two collaborative concert series in February. The first will be with world-renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli. A subset of Master Chorale singers will join this classical music superstar for multiple performances at the Hard Rock Live venue in Broward County. Just two weeks later, our singers will become the Capulets and Montagues for Hector Berlioz’s dramatic choral symphony, Roméo et Juliette. This a particularly exciting set of performances on February 25 & 26 represents a continuation of our educational partnership with Lynn University Philharmonia Orchestra. The Lynn Conservatory is home to an extraordinary instrumental music program that draws students from around the world, and thiscollaboration helps young instrumentalists experience choral-orchestral masterworks.