Although it may be argued on who actually wrote Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem,” it is indisputable that the San Diego Festival Chorus & Orchestra’s ability to perform this masterpiece that has stood the test of time over the past two centuries. “Requiem” is a difficult piece of music to master, both in lyric and composition, but the choral arrangement was nothing short of superb.
Although it may be argued on who actually wrote Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem,” it is indisputable that the San Diego Festival Chorus & Orchestra’s ability to perform this masterpiece that has stood the test of time over the past two centuries. “Requiem” is a difficult piece of music to master, both in lyric and composition, but the choral arrangement was nothing short of superb. This is not an easy arrangement in any form to master, but the combination of a live orchestra filled with many strings, a chorus that understands and practices the delicate balance of combining many voices into one and four outstanding guest soloists, the first half of the “Sounds of Spring” displayed the ability of this community chorus to master the best of the best. Conducted by Founder and Musical Director Anthony Mostardo, this was a breath of fresh air, especially to those of us that love the emotion of classical music and appreciate the sounds of operatic theater.
Held on May 7 at the College Avenue Baptist Church, the venue of the large sanctuary was acoustically wonderful giving the audience the ability to hear all the parts of the chorus, soloists, and orchestra without any one powering over the other.
Combining chorus, live orchestra and soloists is no easy task, but this group made even Requiem seem easy. The guest soloists for the Mozart part of the program were an bright addition to this passionate piece of music, whether accompanying the chorus in solo, duet, in tandem and in their solo performance as a quartet. It was a perfect mixture with Soprano Christa Stevens, Tenor Mark Lozano, Mezzo Soprano Erin Murphy and Bass/Baritone Eric Castro. I am sure that if there were any in the audience that had never before heard this masterpiece, it left a lasting impression.
Lightening up the mood in the second half, accompanist and Associate Conductor Ron Councell took the audience through a journey of the wonders of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Beginning with superlative arrangements from “Phantom of the Opera” it is difficult to say that one piece stood out among the others, as all of the songs chosen are favorites to many and well known lyrically. Myself, a big fan of this work, “Angel of Music’ and “Phantom of the Opera” were my favorites during this segment and the arrangement pulled the best out of these classics. The duets that accompanied the chorus in whole retained the integrity of the pieces and blended together beautifully with some wonderful surprises in composition and style. Moving on, “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” from “Evita” was breathtaking as well as “Memory” from the musical “Cats.” Finishing off the concert with a melody of songs from “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” added to the list of performances that showed that his group of musicians that come together for the joy and love of music take each and every performance to heart and it there is no doubt by their performance and the smiles on their faces that this organization loves what it does.
And did I mention the orchestra? Live music is always better and this orchestra was stellar. I loved all the strings in use and from Mozart to Webber, its performance was as compelling as the singers.
The San Diego Festival Chorus is a non-profit musical organization and welcomes members who enjoys the challenge of learning and performing choral classics and musical fare. To find out more about the San Diego Festival Chorus, visit www.sandiegofestivalchorus.org.