The Newburyport Choral Society has been spending some quality time with composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn lately, and soon, the rest of the community will be able to hear the result of that interaction.
During their spring concert, set for May 4 and May 5 at the Belleville Church on High Street in Newburyport, the Choral Society will present Mozart’s “Solemn Vespers” and “3 Motets” and Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass.”
“The music is absolutely terrific,” said Dr. Gerald Weale, the choral society’s music director of 26 years. “These are the two great figures of the second half of the 18th century who did write a lot of choral music. Not all composers write a lot of choral music, these guys did. And they’re fun to sing.”
The composers were not only contemporaries, but they were friends as well. Their choral pieces are meant to be sung in churches like the Belleville.
“It’s full of uplift,” Weale said. “All of this music is music written for the church. Austria was the (Roman Catholic) church at that stage in the game. In those days, the church was supported by the state. So, there were orchestras in churches; there were professional level choirs. Composers were hired to do specific things for big occasions for the church.”
Now in its 79th year, the all-volunteer chorus will be supported by a 13-piece orchestra of trumpets, timpani, strings and organ. Soloists will include Australian-American soprano Robyn Lamp; mezzo-soprano Jaime Hartzell, who has performed with the Utah Festival Opera and the Boston University Opera; tenor Jordan Weatherston Pitts and bass Erik Van Heyningen, who have also performed with the Boston University Opera.
“There is a strong melodic sense,” Weale said of the program’s music. “They are really wonderful, wonderful melodies. They are also from a very orderly, tidy world. The music from that particular period is not wild. Nor, however, is it enormously soothing. What it is, is organized. It is for music lovers. It is not primarily about its words. Yes, we’re singing words, but it’s not like a solo song. Here the text is used as a vehicle for writing music.”