Meanwhile he emphasizes that the Mass in B Minor was actually composed in parts from many previous works by Bach to tempt a patron to release him from the bondage of the church and that the sacred work therefore is full of melodic and harmonic appeal to the average mortal. From the musician’s point of view it is a demanding and rewarding adventure in playing a work where “there is so much detail, yet there is not a single extra note, for every note means something.” He points out that every listener enjoys a privilege withheld from its composer. “Bach never heard it, since it was never performed as a whole in his lifetime.”
The soloists will be Mozart, Handel, Bach and Haydn specialist, soprano Laura Jobin-Acosta, Texan mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert of the classical alt/rock band the Knells, tenor Blake Friedman, soloist this season at the New York City Ballet, Met bass Matthew Anchel, and Met star countertenor Jeffrey Mandelbaum (whose name means ‘almond tree’). Mandelbaum debuted at the Met three years ago in The Enchanted Island alongside Placido Domingo, sang later at the Met in The Tempest.
In rehearsals in the church concluding on Friday and Saturday the artistic director and conductor Jonathan De Vries demonstrated his famously sanguine temperament by congratulating the performers at frequent intervals on their flair for navigating the elegant but propulsive and richly satisfying turns of the music. “Really, really, truly you keep moving and moving!” he said at one point, and at the finish exclaimed “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!” He then asked the choir, “Can we thank the soloists and the orchestra?” and the 80 strong ranks of the singers, some of them home owners from the exclusive family neighborhood of Carnegie Hill which surrounds the church, burst into grateful applause, partly for him.
Tickets $25 b($20 seniors, $10 students) from Smarttix, from any member or at the door.
More details at the Canterbury Choral Society, where auditions are also available for those with choral experience who wish to join the Society.