A Verdi Requiem Weekend
The Arts at Grace, SUNY Cortland’s Department of Performing Arts, and the McNeil Development Company present two gala performances of the magnificent Verdi Requiem at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 3 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. Both concerts are in the former United Community Church at 19 Church Street in Cortland. There is no charge for admission. Donations are welcome.
Long recognized as one of the most remarkable musical works ever composed, the Verdi Requiem is breathtakingly beautiful, highly dramatic, and challenging to perform. The work requires a chorus of about 100 singers, a full professional orchestra of over forty members, and four outstanding soloists. Though the text of the Requiem is by definition a somber one, the breadth of the musical invention in this work is astonishing, from the dramatic trumpet call from the balcony of the “Tuba Mirum” and the terrifying sounds of the “Dies irae,” to the very personal plea for salvation by the soloists. Written to honor the memory of Verdi’s close friend, the great Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni, the piece is at once both monumental and deeply personal.
The chorus for this concert is made up of members of SUNY Cortland’s College Singers and the Choral Union. The College Singers is an all-student ensemble at SUNY Cortland, while the Choral Union is made up of members from the college and the greater Cortland community.
Verdi orchestra members and the four soloists are drawn from throughout Central New York, from Syracuse to Binghamton and Ithaca and all points in between. Soprano Tamara Acosta of Ithaca is a highly experienced soloist who has sung with many opera companies including Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Santa Fe Opera. Also from Ithaca, Mezzo-soprano Ivy Walz has performed with the Des Moines Metro and Cincinnati Operas and the Spoleto Festival, USA. She is on the Voice faculty at Ithaca College. Tenor Jonathan Howells of Syracuse most recently sang in Syracuse Opera’s production of Sweeney Todd. He has appeared in a number of venues nationally from Syracuse to Texas. Bass-baritone David Neal has performed regionally, nationally, and internationally in operas and concerts. He is Chair of the SUNY Cortland Performing Arts Department and Artistic Director of The Arts at Grace.
The performances will be conducted by Stephen B. Wilson, who joined the SUNY Cortland faculty in 1985. The beauty of the Requiem is what drew him into a career in conducting when he first sang the work as a freshman at the University of California.
Renowned Verdi scholar Professor David Rosen of Cornell will present a pre-concert talk at 1:30 p.m. before the Sunday performance. The Sunday concert will be followed by an informal reception at 19 Church Street where audience members can meet and talk with the musicians.
The Arts at Grace is a community outreach of Grace and Holy Spirit Church. The series offers all of its concerts free of charge. Generous contributors making the Verdi Requiem possible include regional businesses and many individuals. Major financial supporters for the Requiem are CNY Arts/NYSCA, Cortland Community Foundation, Wilkins Foundation, First Niagara Foundation, Tompkins Trust Company, McNeil Development Company, and St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. Call 607-753-3073 for further information.