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The Great Mass in C Minor: Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Vocal and Intrumental Departments

The Great Mass in C minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of those ambiguous pieces everyone knows from a movie or cartoon. Also, it is most commonly confused with Mozart's Requiem, which is, believe it or not, different. When Mozart wrote the Great Mass, which was during the years 1782 and 1783, he wasn't a Church musician of the Salzburg Cathedral, like he was before. It wasn't commissioned by anyone. Mozart decided to write it in honor of his marriage with Constanza. The Great Mass in C minor is also Mozart's last musical setting of the mass, and it was left unfinished. There were some attempts made out there to complete the Mass; some of them were good and some of them not really, but Mozart's music is still formidable and cannot be defeated. The Great Mass is considered a very difficult piece for performance even for the professional choruses.

SOTA Instrumental Music and Vocal departments joined forces to create two beautiful performances of the Mass. Todd Wedge, the director of the Vocal department, conducted the Mass. Brad Hogarth is the director of the Instrumental Music department. There were two concerts in all, one was at the Dan Kryston Memorial Theatre and the other at the Temple Emanu-el. Both concerts were supposed to be at the Temple Emanu-el, but due to the storm and flooding alert on Thursday, the first concert (which was also supposed to be on Thursday) was postponed and took place the next day at the Dan Kryston Memorial Theatre. I went to both performances and was able not only to enjoy the Great Mass twice but also to compare two performances. And yes, Mozart's Mass in C minor, the one which was performed at a Synagogue, the walls of which helped project the powerful performance of the Mass, was much better and impressive. Did I really just say that?

The soloists performing were very memorable. Some soloists performed both nights, and others were alternating.
Hope Nelson has a charming timbre. Her voice sat well with the chorus and orchestra. Nicole Koh has a very strong voice with an emotional character. She surprised the audience with her dramatic dynamics. At the first concert, Ms Koh performed in a duet and at the second concert (in the Synagogue) she performed the opening aria. She succeeded at both parts. Jamie Zimmer manifested fascinating coloratura. Also, Ms. Zimmer managed to be very different at both performances. Each time her interpretation was interesting and musically attractive. Her singing was intriguing and captivating. Lumi Sugazawa-O'Niel has a charismatic stage presence. Her opening aria was a fabulous beginning to the ingenious piece. Clover Austin-Meuhleck has excellent acting skills. Her way of presenting a musical piece to the audience was memorable. Elio Bucky has a rich voice, and he shined through during his solo moment. Nolan Ramirez has good intonation and I enjoyed his passionate voice. Emilie Suarez has strong high notes. Simone Moore has nice phrasing. Her singing was very sweet and unforgettable. Kyle Miller has powerful low notes. His mellow voice resonated well in the Temple Emanu-el.

Rhoslyn Jones, singing Et Incarnatus Est, is a vocal coach at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, and it was a pleasure to hear her beautifully perform. Her professional performance with stunning high notes was appended with melodious phrasing.

The instrumentalists performing with the chorus were very good. They sat well together and they sounded in harmony with the chorus. Knowing how difficult it is to coordinate an orchestra and a chorus, plus soloists, I find that this was quite spectacular. Round of applause to the students, to Brad Hogarth, and to Maestro Todd Wedge.

Overall, the impression was unforgettable and I'm looking forward to the next collab show.


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