Who could have imagined that a 50th anniversary celebration of a noted area chorale would feature a concert devoted to death?
David Rosenmeyer, for one—the new conductor/music director of the nonprofit Fairfield County Chorale.
Rosenmeyer has programmed a concert for Saturday, March 16, at the Norwalk Concert Hall that will feature “if not the greatest, then one of the top five” choral pieces ever written and one of the “big guns” in the repertoire.
Thus, Brahms’ “German” Requiem, a mass or service for the dead, is the program highlight. Also slated are three brilliant short pieces by Mozart: Kyrie in D minor, K341; Masonic Funeral Music, K477; and Ave Verum Corpus (a Eucharistic hymn).
Joining the more than 100 auditioned members of the chorale will be two professional guest artists: baritone Suchan Kim, a native of Busan, South Korea, and soprano Francesca Mondanaro, of New York. Also featured will be the 42-piece New York-based Fairfield County Chorale Orchestra.
In his first year as music director, Rosenmeyer “is bringing the chorale to new heights with this performance of the beloved Requiem,” said John Parkinson, the ensemble’s executive director.
“From a period group so artfully led by the chorale’s founding music director, (the late) Johannes Somary, the chorale is transforming into a romantically charismatic ensemble de force, capable not only of its traditional period pieces from the Baroque and Renaissance eras, but also more modern selections such as Orff’s Carmina Burana, as magnificently presented in the chorale’s dynamically powerful December concert,” Parkinson wrote in his program notes.
Rosenmeyer said the Brahms Requiem is not only a “masterwork of art, it is very beautiful … (and) one of my favorites.
“It’s a journey. It is one of those pieces that choral singers, orchestra players and audiences alike can never tire from hearing. There is always something new to discover in this amazing masterpiece,” he said.
“Initially, Brahms wanted to name it the ‘Human’ Requiem, for its universal message of solace and consolation.”
With its German text and underlying “enlightened” theme of religious tolerance, “anybody could hear it around the world” and enjoy it, said Rosenmeyer, noting that he is Jewish.
“With everything happening in the world today—and in Fairfield County—solace and consolation is something we all need,” he added.
Born in Argentina and reared for some years in Israel, Rosenmeyer is in his seventh season as the associate conductor of the Oratorio Society of New York, which he has led in several Carnegie Hall performances, including one last week.
Rosenmeyer, a pianist, also is on the faculty of New York University, where he is music director of the Choral Arts Society and the University Singers. In addition, he is on the artist roster of the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute, where he designs and programs interactive musical outreach programs to underserved communities.
Francesca Mondanaro is the recipient of a grant from the prestigious Amadeus Fund, in 2005; winner of the Career Bridges Foundation Competition in 2006; a grant winner from the Olga Forrai Foundation; and among the winners of the Silverman Prize at the International Vocal Academy of Israel and at the Anna Maria-Saritelli-diPanni Bel Canto Competition.
Suchan Kim, now a master’s student at Mannes College/The New School for Music in New York, has sung the title role in the Mannes Opera’s production of “Don Giovanni.” He also has performed at the Merola Opera Program, Korea National University of Arts and several other opera companies in South Korea.
The third and final concert in the 50th season is set for Saturday, May 18, at 7:30 p.m. at Norwalk Concert Hall, featuring works by Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Vivaldi, performed with FCC alumni.