Two perspectives of death were on people’s minds Sunday night at the Knox County Symphony and Community Choir’s joint Spring Concert. Performing Johannes Brahms’ “Nanie (Elegy), op.82” and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem in d minor, K. 626 (Süssmayr),” the over 150 members of the two ensembles overpowered Rosse Hall with expert performances of these two pieces. Both ensembles are headed by Professor of Music Ben Locke.
The Brahms piece, an elegy, was written commemorating the death of the composer’s friend. Instead of adopting a dark mood to represent grief, it focuses on remembering the dead in a positive way. Mozart’s famous “Requiem” also deals with the same theme; the piece was left unfinished by the composer after he died in the midst of writing it. The work was performed Sunday night in its final form, completed by Joseph Eybler and Franz Xaver Süssmayr, Mozart’s contemporaries.
Brahms’ “Nanie (Elegy)” opened with just the orchestra before being joined by the choir, and the group sang with a confidence and skill that was impressive for a choir that is open to all who want to join.
Selam Bezuneh ’20, who had not sung in any choirs before coming to Kenyon, spoke about her excitement working with such an experienced orchestra. “This past week is the first week we practiced with them,” she said. “It made everything come together more and it gave everybody a lot more energy.”
The piece ended on a positive note. Despite its dark subject matter, the choir, singing in German, concluded the piece singing, “To be a song of lament on the lips of a loved one is glorious.” The performance of this work lasted just over ten minutes.
The Mozart piece took up the majority of the performance, lasting around an hour. It featured Chamber Singers Gracie Potter ’17, Ellie Jorling ’17, James Wojtal ’17 and Henry Quillian ’17 as vocal soloists, and impressed the audience with its successful combination of orchestra, choir and solo performances.
Sections such as “Rex tremendae” and “Confutatis” showed off the large choir’s power, while the soloists impressed with their skill on “Tuba mirum” and “Recordare.” The work’s most famous section, “Lacrymosa,” was a clear highlight; much of the crowd was stirred by a live performance of the well-known piece. Like the Brahms piece, the work ends on a high note, with the choir singing, “Light eternal shine upon them, Lord, with your saints in eternity, for you are merciful. Grant them eternal rest, Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them, for you are merciful.”