St. Charles Singers to perform rarely heard works of Mozart
The St. Charles Singers will launch its 33rd concert season in October with a new installment of the professional chamber choir's "Mozart Journey," its multiyear project to perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's complete sacred choral music.
The mixed-voice ensemble, conducted by founder and music director Jeffrey Hunt, and the Metropolis Chamber Orchestra will present the 11th and newest leg of its Mozart Journey, a concert titled "Mozart Journey XI: Mannheim and Beyond."
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles; and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16, at St. Mary Catholic Church, 397 Fulton St., Elgin. Tickets are $10-$35.
The program will transport listeners to Mannheim, Germany, and other Mozart locales for a concert that includes Mozart sacred choral works that are rarely heard in concert settings, including the Kyrie in E-Flat Major, K. 322, a short but majestic piece with unadorned singing that Mozart wrote in 1778 during his stay in Mannheim. It's believed to be a fragment of an unfinished, larger work.
The concert, featuring a choir of 32 voices, includes a Mozart sacramental litany, a large-scale work in nine movements that incorporates elements of symphony, concerto and opera. Mozart wrote the "Litaniae de venerabili altaris sacramento" (Litany in Honor of the Blessed Sacrament) in E-Flat Major, K. 243, in Salzburg, Austria, for four soloists, chorus and orchestra. The Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia calls it "his grandest litany, indeed one of his most sublime contributions to sacred music."
"The singing is almost operatic," Hunt says. "The solo parts are very dramatic, very demanding. Mozart had specific, accomplished opera singers in mind when he wrote it."
Mozart's Missa solemnis in C Major, K. 337, from 1780, is a more mature work. "The Missa is somewhat better known than the other two works," choirmaster Hunt says, "but many listeners will likely be hearing it live for the first time."
Highlights of the Mass include "a wonderful conversation between oboe, bassoon, organ, and soprano soloist," Hunt says. "Each instrument has a solo that echoes the soprano's without imitating it."
This newest edition of the Mozart Journey series will also take listeners on a brief hike into Haydn territory for the short Symphony No. 1 of Franz Joseph Haydn, a contemporary whom Mozart knew and respected. The Haydn symphony shares much of the same instrumentation and orchestral colors of the Mozart works.
A preconcert lecture by Wheaton College Professor of Music Jonathan Saylor will begin an hour before each Mozart Journey performance.
St. Charles Singers ensemble members performing in the concert include sopranos Jeanne Fornari, Batavia; Marybeth Kurnat, Cortland; Laura Johnson, Hanover Park; Cynthia Spiegel, La Fox; Meredith Du Bon and Jennifer Gingrich, Naperville; AnDréa James, St. Charles; and Karen Lukose, Winfield.
The concert's alto section includes Christina Collins, Arlington Heights; Sarah Underhill, Aurora; Margaret Fox and Valerie Heinkel-Bollero, Batavia; Julie Popplewell, North Aurora; Bridget Kancler, Oak Park; Debby Wilder, Wheeling; and Chelsea Rhoades, Yorkville.
Tenors are Rob Campbell, DeKalb; Bryan Kunstman and Bradley Staker, Elburn; Jonathan Cramer, Lake Villa; Aaron James, St. Charles; Gregor King, Sycamore; David Hunt, Wayne; and Steve Williamson, West Chicago.
Basses include Brandon Fox, Batavia; Antonio Quaranta, Carol Stream; Douglas Peters, Chicago; Nate Coon, Crystal Lake; David Hartley, Lake in the Hills; Michael Popplewell, North Aurora; Drayton Eggleson, Sycamore; and Jens Hurty, Yorkville.
Founded and directed by Jeffrey Hunt, the St. Charles Singers is a professional chamber choir dedicated to choral music in all its forms. The mixed-voice choir launched in St. Charles in 1984 as the Mostly Madrigal Singers. ClassicsToday.com calls the ensemble "one of North America's outstanding choirs," citing "charisma and top-notch musicianship" that "bring character and excitement to each piece."
If you goWhat: The St. Charles Singers presents "Mozart Journey XI"
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles; and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, at St. Mary Catholic Church, 397 Fulton St., Elgin
Cost: $35 adult general admission, $30 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students
Tickets: Available at www.stcharlessingers.com or by calling (630) 513-5272; and at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles (checks or cash only at this venue). Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the day of the concert, depending on availability. Group discounts are available.