The Central Texas Choral Society adds another masterwork to its performance resume on Tuesday when its singers, with help from Midway High School student musicians, performs Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem.
The requiem, one of Mozart’s best-known choral compositions, joins the choral movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the Brahms Requiem, Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” Beethoven’s Mass in C major and Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” as major works that the ensemble has sung in its seven years.
“On several levels, it’s a big deal,” said CTCS director David Guess. Tuesday’s performance is the latest in a collaboration between the community group and student musicians at Midway High.
Midway’s Camerata Orchestra, led by director Beau Benson and supplemented by a handful of Waco-area professionals, will provide the Requiem’s instrumental support while the Midway Chamber Singers under director Jeff Rice will add their voices to the CTCS.
Soloists in the concert are soprano Bronwen Forbay, alto Megan Gackle, tenor Randall Umstead and baritone Matthew McKinnon.
Add some 90 singers and 35 orchestra players and there’s considerable musical heft for Tuesday’s performance, which Benson will conduct.
“It’s a real exciting concert with that many voices,” Guess said.
Mozart was roughly halfway in composing the Requiem when he died in 1791 and music scholars since then have tried to tease out what’s Mozart and what should be credited to Viennese composers Franz Süssmayr and Joseph von Eybler.
Mozart’s widow Constanze added to the story by claiming a mysterious messenger had served as go-between for the man who had commissioned the work, Count Franz von Walsegg, and Mozart, in failing health, became convinced that he was writing his own requiem.
That story grew with the decades with Russian poet and playwright Alexander Pushkin writing a short 1830 play that suggested the middle man was Viennese composer Antonio Salieri, jealous at his rival’s talent.
English playwright Peter Shaffer built on that in his 1979 play “Amadeus,” and its subsequent 1984 film adaptation, which broadened public exposure to and appreciation of the Requiem. “There’s a lot of truth in that and a lot of Hollywood in that,” Guess said.