I hope you can all join the MSO and myself as we feature our own Milwaukee Symphony Chorus this weekend – a talented, dedicated (and fun-loving!) group of individuals who have already hit a couple home runs this season with Schubert’s Mass in Eb in the fall and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony a few months ago. In this program, I have challenged the chorus with three works that feature them in different ways: as an “instrumental wordless chorus” in Vaughan Williams’ Flos Campi, a dramatic opera chorus in Wagner’s Tannhäuser, and as the standard symphonic chorus in Cherubini’s Requiem. One of the most popular works of the 19th century (and a favorite of Beethoven and Brahms), Cherubini’s Requiem is one of the most unfairly overlooked works of our time and I am thrilled to be a part of its performance here in Milwaukee at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. To top off the chorus and the music, our principal viola, Robert Levine makes a solo appearance on the Vaughan Williams.

Oh, and did I mention it is just $5 for tickets to this Friday and Saturday evening performances? http://www.mso.org/tickets/detail?perfid=20112 So please come out and support this wonderful chorus! I just finished writing all the program notes for the concerts so I am keeping this short, but here is a preview of my introductory remarks included in the program this weekend:

I am truly elated and grateful for the opportunity to showcase the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus on this evening’s program. During my time with the MSO, I have worked with several renowned guest conductors and witnessed firsthand their joy and amazement at the talent and work ethic of our chorus. Without them, the symphony would be unable to perform the standards like Beethoven’s Ninth or Handel’s Messiah at a world-class level. Most impressive to me, though, is how the chorus has performed works outside the typical repertoire of a volunteer chorus. Last season alone featured the chorus in John Adams’s On the Transmigration of Souls and the United States premiere of a contemporary Russian work.

Not only is the chorus integral to the artistic quality of the MSO, it is also the orchestra’s most direct link with the community. The members of the chorus come from every walk of life, including teachers, lawyers, doctors, and students from the greater Milwaukee area. They volunteer their time and energy for rehearsals and concerts, and they also bring in new audiences and support. I am constantly inspired by their devotion to music and this orchestra. Thank you for joining me in celebrating their remarkable work over the past 38 years.

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About Francesco Lecce-Chong

www.lecce-chong.com

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