Music lovers can revel in Mozart rarities with St. Charles Singers on April 9 and 10

The St. Charles Singers, led by Founder and Music Director Jeffrey Hunt, will perform the penultimate installment of their landmark, multi-season project Mozart Journey at concerts April 9-10 in St. Charles, featuring four by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s rarely heard sacred choral works.

The guest soloist is soprano Michelle Areyzaga, a former member of the St. Charles Singers ensemble who enjoyed success as an opera, concert and recital performer.

Soprano Michelle Areyzaga is a soloist in the latest “Mozart Journey” concerts with St. Charles Singers and Metropolis Orchestra.
– Courtesy of Michelle Areyzaga

The chamber choir’s Mozart Journey XVI program, with the Metropolis Orchestra, is the penultimate destination on its decade-long journey through the beloved classical composer‘s complete sacred choral works, few of which have ever been heard in concert.

“Many listeners find Mozart’s sacred choral music as thrilling and satisfying as his operas, symphonies and chamber works, but most of this music remains overlooked,” Hunt said.

“Our Mozart Journey has provided the only opportunity Chicago-area audiences will likely ever have to hear many of these works in person, and with the orchestral accompaniment Mozart specified,” Hunt said.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

“This is especially true for our April concerts,” he adds.

The program features Mozart’s “Tantum Ergo” in D major, K. 197; Missa brevis in G major, K. 140; “Two German Hymns”, K. 343; and Missa solemnis in C minor, “Waisenhaus”, K. 139.

Performances will be Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 10 at 3 p.m. at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Avenue in St. Charles.

Jonathan Saylor, professor of music at Wheaton College, will give a 30-minute talk at Baker Church an hour before each concert.

Multiple missions

Mozart was only 12 when he composed the Missa solemnis, K. 139, for the opening ceremonies of the new Waisenhaus church in Vienna. A local newspaper reported that the Missa “has met with universal approval and admiration”.

Among the highlights will be the virtuoso operatic aria “Quoniam tu solus”, which will be sung by guest soprano Areyzaga.

Hunt describes the work as “dramatic and majestic”.

The Missa brevis, K. 140, is unusual in that it bears no resemblance to Mozart’s other masses, but shares stylistic traits with some of his other works. Hunt describes the work as having “a pastoral feel”, with melodies “reminiscent of Austrian folksongs”.

Mozart’s “Tantum ergo”, K. 197, is a setting of a motet text in the style of folksong. The simple and charming “Two German Hymns”, K. 343, include “O Gottes Lamm” in F major and “Als aus Ägypten” in C major, the latter based on Psalm 114.

Mapping Mozart’s journey

The St. Charles Singers launched their extensive “Mozart Journey” initiative with the Metropolis Orchestra in January 2010 as a long-term, multi-year celebration of the choir’s 25th anniversary concert season. Considered a first venture for an American choir, the project encompasses the entirety of Mozart’s sacred choral works, presented in 17 different concert programs at venues across Chicago and the western suburbs, including neighborhoods and cities where St. Charles Singers had never played. before. The final installment, Mozart Journey XVII, will be performed August 27-28 at the choir’s longtime home, Baker Church, in downtown St. Charles.

Single admission to Mozart Journey XVI is $40 for adults, $35 for seniors 65 and over, and $10 for students. Group discounts are available.

Tickets and information are available at stcharlessingers.com or by calling (630) 513-5272. Tickets are also available at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles (check or cash only at this counter). Tickets can also be purchased at the door on the day of the concert, subject to availability. Group discounts are available.

Mozart Voyage XVI Singers

Members of the St. Charles Singers ensemble performing in Mozart Journey XVI include sopranos Jeanne Fornari of Batavia; Nicole Tolentino, Carol Stream; Ingrid Burrichter, Chicago; Marybeth Kurnat, DeKalb; Mary Kustman, Elburn; Laura Johnson, Hanover Park; Meredith Taylor Mollica, Naperville; Amanda Kohl, Oak Park; and Andrea James, Karen Rockett and Cynthia Spiegel, St. Charles.

Altos are Margaret Fox and Valerie Heinkel-Bollero, Batavia; Kelly Grba, Bolingbrook; Bridget Kancler, Chicago; Chelsea King and Julie Popplewell, North Aurora; Karen Archbold and Rachel Taylor, Wheaton; and Debra Wilder, Wheeling.

The tenor section includes Tyler Theis, Aurora; Christopher Jackson, Chicago; Rob Campbell, De Kalb; Bryan Kunstman and Bradley Staker, Elburn; Marcus Jansen, Geneva; Stephen Mollica, Naperville; Gregor King, Aurora North; David Hunt, Wayne; and Steve Williamson, West Chicago.

The bass section includes Michael Thoms, Aurora; Brandon Fox, Batavia; David Zemke, Bloomingdale; Douglas Peters, Chicago; Nate Coon and Brian Jozwiak, Crystal Lake; Jess Koehn, Downers Grove; Chris DiMarco, Naperville; Michael Popplewell, Aurora North; Antonio Quaranta, River Grove; and Drayton Eggleson, sycamore.

The organist is Stephen Uhl of Glen Ellyn.

Founded and directed by Hunt, the St. Charles Singers is a chamber choir dedicated to choral music in all its forms. The choir was launched in Saint-Charles in 1984 as the Mostly Madrigal Singers.

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