One of the all-time great choral works, the Requiem was described in its time as Verdi’s “latest opera, though in ecclesiastical robes.” Experience the exhilaration and elegance of this glorious work.
ON THE PROGRAM
VERDI | Requiem
To GUISEPPE VERDI (October 1813–January 1901), Alessandro Manzoni, leader of the Italian unification, was a true hero. And yet, Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, while dedicated to the political giant, is also a memorial to the genius of Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868). In collaboration with several composers shortly after Rossini’s death, and with the intention of performing a requiem on the first anniversary of his death, Verdi contributed his “Libera me,” but the complete work was never heard. As Verdi modeled his compositions on the operas of Rossini, there is much obvious debt to his predecessor.
The Requiem was first heard in May 1874 in Milan and then repeated at La Scala. Verdi toured Paris, London, Vienna, and Cologne with the Requiem the following year to enthusiastic receptions. It is interesting that the Requiem appeared after two large-scale, almost symphonic works, Don Carlos and Aida. Two Shakespeare operas, Otello and Falstaff, were the only two works written after the Requiem.
Coming as it did near the end of Verdi’s career, the Requiem may represent the pinnacle of his style, and for choristers, singing this requiem mass comes very close to performing a Verdi opera. From early on, Verdi was careful to work on the scenario and text with his librettist, focusing on the dramatic sense, anticipating the intersection of word, emotion, and music. And whether Verdi intended subtle references to contemporary politics within his works or not, the energy and passion of the revolutionary era are surely evident in his music.
No matter how fixed, the Mass for the Dead provided sufficient emotion and intensity to inspire an extraordinary effort. Without reserve Verdi exploited the full range of sound and style available to him, and the result is a forceful, visceral setting of the ancient Latin text. Verdi’s attention to the rhythm and intention of words is primary, and the reinforcement of emotion and meaning of the text in the powerful and meticulously orchestrated music propels his compositions from first note to last.
If some of the musical elements seem personal and more than simple sound effects, consider the young boy who became quite hostile to the Church as an adult. A sensitive hearing of the “Dies Irae” reveals the terror of a child who, making mistakes in assisting at Mass, received a kick and priestly threats and assurances of being struck by lightning from a vengeful God. With each crash of the bass drum in the stormy scene, we experience young Giuseppe’s terror that this Sunday will be his day of wrath. And as with each supplication, each prayer of the penitent, each statement of faith, we relive the maestro’s range and depth of emotion during the requiem mass.
Notes by Susan Cohn Lackman, PhD
Professor of Theory and Composition, Rollins College
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
John V. Sinclair, Artistic Director and Conductor
John V. Sinclair enjoys a national reputation as a conductor of choral masterworks while locally being known as one of the hardest-working and in demand artists of the Central Florida cultural community. In his 28th season as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Bach Festival Society, he continues his imaginative programming, creative interpretations and expressive conducting style. He has broadened the society’s musical offerings by integrating masterworks of other great classical and contemporary composers into the repertoire of the society while perpetuating his reputation as a scholarly interpreter of J.S. Bach’s music. As a career educator, Sinclair keeps the Society’s educational focus vital by providing a broad range of musical programs and experiences for students of all ages.
Dr. Sinclair, known as a master teacher, is Director of Music at Rollins College and holds the John M. Tiedtke Endowed Chair. He has received many awards during his tenure, including the Sidney Algernon Sullivan Citizen Award, Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship, Hugh and Jeannette McKean Faculty Grant, William E. Barden Distinguished Teaching Award, Cornell Distinguished Service Award, McKean Teaching Prize, Lifetime Achievement Award and has twice been named the “Outstanding Music Educator of the Year” by United Arts of Central Florida. The Florida International Magazine selected him as one of the state’s “Power Players in the Arts,” and he is listed as one of Winter Park Magazine’s “Most Influential People in Winter Park.”
As a conductor who is equally adept at directing choral and orchestral music, he has been referred to as Central Florida’s “resident conductor.” In addition to Rollins College and the Bach Festival, he is conductor of the International Moravian Music Festivals, Orlando’s Messiah Choral Society, and has to his credit over 800 performances of Epcot’s Candlelight Processional. He is also a frequent conductor for the Berkshire Choral International Festivals and Orlando Ballet performances. Dr. Sinclair has made hundreds of appearances as conductor, clinician, or lecturer throughout the United States and around the world. The Bach Festival, under his leadership, has achieved international recognition by touring in Europe, producing nationally released CDs, and performing with the London Symphony during their Florida residencies.
Dr. Sinclair holds a masters and doctoral degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music. His undergraduate school, William Jewell College honored him in 2013, with its prestigious Citation for Achievement. In addition to editing and interpreting historical choral works, his current project is an anecdotal book entitled Falling Off the Podium, and Other Life Lessons, which will be released in fall 2017. Wall Street Journal’s arts critic, Terry Teachout wrote, “John is a gifted conductor, a great educator, and the best of all possible colleagues.” And for more than three decades, John Sinclair has shared his talent and dedication to musical excellence with the Central Florida community and beyond.
Mary Wilson, soprano
Soprano Mary Wilson is acknowledged as one of today’s most exciting artists. Cultivating a wide-ranging career singing chamber music, oratorio, and operatic repertoire, her “bright soprano seems to know no terrors, wrapping itself seductively around every phrase.” (Dallas Morning News)
In demand on the concert stage, she has most recently appeared with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Detroit Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Vocal Essence, and the Hollywood Bowl. An exciting interpreter of Baroque repertoire, especially Handel, and in addition to appearing with our own Bach Festival, she has appeared with Philharmonia Baroque, American Bach Soloists, Boston Baroque, Grand Rapids Bach Festival, Bach Society of St. Louis, Baltimore Handel Choir, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Carmel Bach Festival. With the IRIS Chamber Orchestra, she sang the world premiere of the song cycle Songs Old and New written especially for her by Ned Rorem.
On the opera stage, Ms. Wilson is especially noted for her portrayals of Susannah in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Gilda in Rigoletto. She has appeared with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Minnesota Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Arizona Opera, Tulsa Opera, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Goodman Theatre.
An accomplished pianist, Ms. Wilson holds performance degrees from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She currently is an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Memphis. Through popular demand, Mary returns to the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park for the eleventh time.
Sponsored by a generous gift from Ms. M. Elizabeth Brothers in Loving Memory of Sydney and Marguerite Taylor-Lindsay Brothers
Shirin Eskadani, mezzo-soprano
Hailed by Opera Today for her “pleasing and pliant voice,” Iranian Canadian mezzo-soprano Shirin Eskandani recently made her Metropolitan Opera stage debut as Mercedes in Carmen. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards including first place at the Gerda Lissner Foundation Vocal Competition and fourth place at the Licia Albanese-Puccini Competition.
On the concert stage, Ms. Eskandani has performed in numerous works, including Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, and Duruflé’s Requiem. She has premiered several works, including The Oratorio to End all Oratorios with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s dance performance of Handel’s Messiah.
Recent career highlights include company debuts with the Metropolitan Opera, the Rossini Opera Festival, Sarasota Opera, and Opera Southwest. She has sung roles in numerous operas including Cosi fan Tutte, Il Turco in Italia, Hansel and Gretel, and Le Comte Ory.
Ms. Eskandani is a Midwest district finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has worked as a young artist with Merola Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Theatre St Louis, Syracuse Opera, the Ash Lawn Opera Festival, and Banff Opera. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of British Columbia and her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music. This is Ms. Eskandani’s first appearance with the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park.
Robert Breault, tenor
Tenor Robert Breault enjoys an international career that features an extraordinary breadth of repertoire. His warm, flexible voice and superb artistic sensibilities combine to make him a consummate singing actor.
Robert’s concert career highlights include performances with major orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Atlanta Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, London Philharmonia Orchestra, National Symphony of Taiwan, Jerusalem Symphony, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, The Florida Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Detroit Symphony, San Diego Symphony, the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, and the Utah Symphony, to name a few.
Robert’s opera career features a wide array of repertoire and companies.
With nearly 90 roles to his credit, his career highlights include appearances with New York City Opera, Utah Opera, Opera Orchestra of
New York, Atlanta Opera, and Arizona Opera.
Robert is an active recitalist and is known for his diverse repertoire, which ranges from Handel to contemporary composers. He has recorded several world premieres, including James DeMars’ oratorio An American Requiem with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In his dual role as singer and educator, Robert has served as Professor of Music and Director of Opera at the University of Utah School of Music since 1992. An audience favorite, he has made over a dozen appearances with the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park since 1998.
Timothy Jones, bass
American Timothy Jones is an exciting presence on operatic and concert stages throughout the world. His performances combine intelligent musicianship, commanding vocal technique, and a unique ability to connect with audiences.
Mr. Jones made his New York debut with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in February 2000. A distinguished recitalist and concert soloist, Mr. Jones has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Houston Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and the Utah Symphony. His repertoire spans from J.S. Bach’s Passions, Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Verdi’s Requiem, Vaughn Williams’ A Sea Symphony to Tippett’s A Child of our Time.
His operatic performances include Cosi fan Tutte, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, Macbeth, Porgy and Bess, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hansel and Gretel, and Die Fledermaus. Mr. Jones has appeared with Opera Pacific, Opera Birmingham, Ebony Opera, Shreveport Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Opera Idaho, and the San Antonio Lyric Opera.
An enthusiastic champion of new and contemporary music, Mr. Jones has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous compositions. A favorite of festival audiences, Mr. Jones is highly regarded for his interpretation of art song and lieder and is frequently heard with Ars Lyrica Houston, Victoria Bach Festival, Round Top Music Festival, and the Cactus Pear Music Festival. A graduate of Centenary College and the University of Michigan, he is currently professor of voice at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. This is his first appearance with the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park.