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Music Sunday: Mozart’s “Coronation Mass”

May 19 @ 10:00 am

The House of Hope Motet Choir will perform Mozart’s Coronation Mass, K.317, a favorite of The Motet Choir and congregation. Mozart composed this mass, one of his 19 Mass settings, including the Requiem, in 1779 near the end of his tenure working for Archbishop Colloredo in Salzburg at the age of 23. A few fun facts to whet your interest:

• Mozart composed the solos with choir members in mind, and for the May 19 performance, all 10 of the HOH Section Leaders will make a solo appearance.

• Where are the violas? Although Mozart included oboes, trumpets, horns, and timpani, there are no violas in the string section. This is in keeping with a church sonata/trio orchestration of 2 violins and continuo (celli, bass, organ).

• Composing Mass settings was an activity based on liturgical norms. In two key instances, Mozart (to the Archbishop’s chagrin) broke away from these standards: first, at the conclusion of the Credo movement after the first “Amen,” Mozart has the choir reiterate the opening line of text (Credo in unum Deum) and throws in extra Amens to boot. This may have been the first time in history that a composer did that, and Beethoven repeated the choice in his Missa Solemnis. The second creative break from norms comes in the middle of the Benedictus (sung by solo quartet), when the choir interjects one of three utterances of the “Hosanna in excelsis” material. One may chuckle when the solo quartet then continues back in their rather pastorale character as if the choir’s outburst never happened.

• We witness a little bit of foreshadowing (and future musical recycling) when introduced to the lovely soprano solo in the Agnus Dei movement. This material serves as a little more than inspiration for the aria “Dove Sono” from Le nozze de Figaro.

— Matthew Culloton


May 19
10:00 am


797 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105 United States
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