In a tribute to the human voice, war veterans past and present, and one of the world’s most lasting and celebrated composers, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra is about to take the stage with one of the best known requiem masses.
The special Remembrance Day weekend performance, which comes to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Nov. 13, will see Rosemary Thomson conducting the combined forces of the OSO with the Okanagan Symphony Chorus and an all-B.C. cast of guest soloists to Mozart’s last work before his death, his deeply moving and beautiful Requiem Mass in D Minor (K. 626).
“I wanted to do a piece with a lot of power and emotion. It is a work of great beauty and touches me on a deep level. I thought it would be a meaningful piece of music to commemorate this important day of remembrance,” said Thomson. “It requires a lot of work and is timeless. It speaks to a history and the future. No matter what your belief system is, the message speaks to the immediacy of loss and for hope, peace and strength.”
To make the most of the requiem, Thomson and the symphony have gathered a collection of vocal talents from throughout the valley and province.
The group recently gathered en masse to rehearse the piece, an experience Thomson describes as exciting and exhausting.
“They are bringing so much to the words in the piece. I can’t imagine there will be a dry eye in the house when it’s performed.”
The last time the symphony gathered a mass choir of this size was for its 50th anniversary performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in 2010. It also sang the world premiere of Quarternity — a Cantata of Seasons, written by OSO second violinist and renowned Coldstream-based composer Imant Raminsh with his wife Becky Strube.
“Our thought was ‘can we do it again?’” said Thomson. “We want to make this more of a regular thing. I’m so amazed at the talent here. There’s lots of great choirs in the valley, and we’ve made it so they don’t have to be in a particular group to sing with us. It also allows us to sing with our colleagues from the different cities and communities around the valley. There’s a huge variety of ages and abilities.”
The same goes for the soloists.
Four exceptional vocal talents from different parts of B.C. will join the choir and symphony to perform the requiem.
Vernon’s very own Melina Moore, who needs little introduction, is one of them.
“It is a profound honour to sing Mozart’s Requiem with the OSO and Rosemary Thomson conducting,” said the coloratura soprano. “What a joy to share the stage with such fine musicians and a 100-voice choir. The work itself is one of the most exquisite and enigmatic pieces of music ever written, as it remained unfinished at Mozart’s death. We will work to make Mozart proud.”
Joining Moore is mezzo soprano Dana Luccock, who returned to Vancouver from Toronto where she earned her masters degree in voice and musicology.
She recently performed Mendelssohn’s Magnificat with Summerchor Vancouver, and placed second in the Nei-Stëmmen International Competition in Luxembourg in July 2010.
Luccock plans to return to Europe this summer to continue studies with maestro Umberto Finazzi, ensemble coach at La Scala in Milan, and mezzo-soprano Luisa Mauro-Partridge.
Two male voices will also join the women.
Victoria-based tenor Isaiah Bell, who has studied at the University of Victoria, the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg and with the Calgary Opera emerging artist program, is the 2009 first prize winner in voice at the National Music Festival.
Bell has recently performed with the Nova Scotia and Victoria symphonies, Opéra de Montréal, and took on the role as Madwoman in Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River for City Opera Vancouver in 2010.
The artistic director and creator of Kamloops own B.C. Living Arts, baritone Alan Corbishley has sang around the world.
In the U.K., he sung the part of Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, and Papageno in The Magic Flute, and he also appeared as La Boheme’s Chaunard with Vancouver Opera and Opera Theátre Besançon in France.
Besides Mozart’s Requiem, the OSO will also perform Such Sweet Sorrow by Canadian composer John Estacio.
The Sunday, Nov. 13 performance takes place at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Ticket Seller box office. Call 549-7469, or order online at www.ticketseller.ca.