Performance Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | 8 PM

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Due to his current physical condition and the great demands of this particular piece, conductor Kurt Masur has withdrawn from this performance.

Beethoven’s Missa solemnis is steeped in the sacred-music tradition, yet uniquely Beethovenian: great blocks of massive choral force, contrasting moments of sweet repose, all conveying a broader faith in humankind. Performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and a quartet of star soloists, it’s a Carnegie Hall experience that will leave you enthralled and inspired.


  • Boston Symphony Orchestra
    John Oliver, Conductor
  • Christine Brewer, Soprano
  • Michelle DeYoung, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Simon O'Neill, Tenor
  • Eric Owens, Bass-Baritone
  • Tanglewood Festival Chorus


  • BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis, Op. 123


  • John Oliver

    John Oliver founded the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in 1970 and has since prepared the ensemble for more than 900 performances, including appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Tanglewood, Carnegie Hall, and on tour in Europe and the Far East, as well as with visiting orchestras and as a solo ensemble. He has also prepared the chorus for more than 40 commercial releases with James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Leonard Bernstein, Keith Lockhart, and John Williams. Mr. Oliver's affiliation with the BSO began in the mid-1960s, when he prepared the children's choruses for performances and recordings under Erich Leinsdorf of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 and excerpts from Berg's Wozzeck. In 1970, he was named director of vocal and choral activities at the Tanglewood Music Center. In addition to his work with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Tanglewood Music Center, he has held posts as conductor of the Framingham Choral Society, as a member of the faculty and director of the chorus at Boston University, and for many years on the faculty of MIT, where he was a lecturer and then senior lecturer in music. In 1977, he founded the John Oliver Chorale, which performed a wide-ranging repertoire encompassing the great choral masterpieces as well as seldom-heard works by Carissimi, Bruckner, Ives, Martin, and Dallapiccola. Mr. Oliver has appeared as guest conductor with the New Japan Philharmonic, Berkshire Choral Institute, and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, with which he made his debut in December 2011 conducting Handel's Messiah. In 2001-2002, he conducted the Carnegie Hall Choral Workshop in preparation for André Previn's performance at Carnegie Hall of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem. He made his Boston Symphony Orchestra conducting debut in August 1985 and has previously conducted the BSO in Bach's St. Matthew Passion and B-Minor Mass, Donald Martino's The White Island (a BSO centennial commission specifically including the Tanglewood Festival Chorus), and Mozart's Mass in C. This past October, Mr. Oliver received the 2011 Alfred Nash Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Choral Arts New England in recognition of his outstanding contributions to choral music.

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  • Christine Brewer

    Named one of the top 20 sopranos of all time by BBC Music, Christine Brewer is acclaimed for her appearances in opera, concert, and recital. Highlights of her 2011-2012 season include singing Wagner and Beethoven with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Wagner's WesendonckLieder with the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, Ring cycle excerpts with the San Francisco Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen, Beethoven's Missa solemnis with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall, Strauss's Four Last Songs with the St. Louis Symphony and David Robertson, and a recital with pianist Craig Rutenberg at Alice Tully Hall. She also returns to the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis for concert performances of Weber's Der Freischütz and makes her Los Angeles Opera debut as Lady Billows in Britten's Albert Herring. An avid recitalist, she has been heard at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, London's Wigmore Hall, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Vocal Arts Society in Washington, DC, among other venues, as well as at the Gilmore, Ravinia, and Cleveland Art Song festivals. Highly regarded in the title role in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, she has performed it with the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Lyon, Théâtre du Châtelet, Santa Fe Opera, English National Opera, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She has performed Wagner's Tristan und Isolde at San Francisco Opera, Gluck's Alceste with Santa Fe Opera, the Dyer's Wife in Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten at Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Opéra National de Paris, and Lady Billows at Santa Fe Opera. She is also celebrated for the title roles in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride and Strauss's Die ägyptische Helena. Ms. Brewer performed at the reopening of Covent Garden with Plácido Domingo for TRH the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. Her discography includes Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and Experience (a Grammy winner); works by Schubert, Janáček, Dvořák, Strauss, Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler, and Britten; and several recital recordings. March 2011 saw the release of Echoes of Nightingales with pianist Roger Vignoles, featuring favorite encore songs of the past.

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  • Michelle DeYoung

    Michelle DeYoung has appeared with the major orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic, and at such festivals as Ravinia, Tanglewood, Aspen, Cincinnati, Saito Kinen, Edinburgh, Salzburg, and Lucerne. Conductors with whom she has worked include, among others, Barenboim, Boulez, Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Dohnányi, Haitink, Jansons, Levine, Ozawa, Pappano, Previn, Salonen, and Tilson Thomas. She has also appeared with many of the world's finest opera companies, among them the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, La Scala, Berliner Staatsoper, Opéra National de Paris, the Théâtre du Châtelet, and Tokyo Opera, as well as at the Bayreuth Festival. Her many roles include Wagner's Fricka, Sieglinde, Waltraute, Kundry, Venus, and Brangäne; Dido in Les Troyens; Eboli in Don Carlo; Marguerite in Le damnation de Faust; Judith in Bluebeard's Castle; Dalila in Samson et Dalila; Gertrude in Hamlet; Jocasta in Oedipus Rex; and Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia. She created the role of the Shaman in Tan Dun's The First Emperor at the Metropolitan Opera. In recital, she has been presented by the University of Chicago Presents series, the Ravinia Festival, Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, San Francisco Symphony's Great Performances series, Cal Performances in Berkeley, SUNY Purchase, Calvin College, the Pittsburgh Symphony, Roy Thomson Hall, the Théâtre du Châtelet, the Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon), the Edinburgh Festival, London's Wigmore Hall, and La Monnaie in Brussels. Her recordings include Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, Symphony No. 3, Das klagende Lied, and Das Lied von der Erde; Berlioz's Les Troyens; Bernstein's Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah"; and a solo disc for EMI. This season, she makes her debut in Nice as Brangäne, sings Dalila with Washington Concert Opera, returns to Houston Grand Opera as Lucretia, and appears with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Colorado Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, and on tour with the Philharmonia Orchestra throughout Europe.

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  • Simon O'Neill

    New Zealand native Simon O'Neill is a principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; La Scala; and the Bayreuth and Salzburg festivals. Notable debuts have included the Bayreuth Festival in the title roles of Lohengrin and Parsifal, the Metropolitan Opera as the Gran Sacerdote in Idomeneo, the Royal Opera House as Jeník in The Bartered Bride, the Salzburg Festival in Die Zauberflöte, and Opera Australia as Sergei in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Recent highlights include a return to Bayreuth as Parsifal, Florestan in Fidelio at the Grafenegg Festival, Mahler's Symphony No. 8 at the Edinburgh Festival, Siegmund in Die Walküre to open La Scala's 2010-2011 season, Cavaradossi in Tosca in Berlin and Hamburg, Fidelio at Houston Grand Opera, his Staatsoper Berlin debut as Siegmund, and his debut as Siegfried in concert performances of Götterdämmerung with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia. Recent and future engagements include Walther in Die Meistersingervon Nürnberg at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Siegmund at Covent Garden, La Scala, Teatro Massimo Palermo, Houston Grand Opera, and with the Vienna, Berlin, Bayerische, and Hamburg state operas; Parsifal at the Vienna State Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, and Covent Garden; Tosca in Tokyo; Nixon in China in San Francisco; Der Freischütz with the London Symphony; Otello and Götterdämmerung in Houston; leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera; Gurrelieder in London; and concert performances of Fidelio with the National Symphony and Die Walküre with the New Zealand Symphony. His discography includes his debut solo album Wagner Scenes: Father and Son, Otello with the London Symphony, Die Zauberflöte for the Salzburg Festival's DVD set of all the Mozart operas, Mahler's Symphony No. 8, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 DVD with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Frank Martin's Der Sturm, and Chausson's Le Roi Arthus. Simon O'Neill is an alumnus of the University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Juilliard Opera Center. A Fulbright Scholar, he was awarded the 2005 Arts Laureate of New Zealand and was a grand finalist in the 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Auditions.


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  • Eric Owens

    American bass-baritone Eric Owens opened the 2010-2011 season of the Metropolitan Opera as Alberich in Das Rheingold in a new Robert Lepage production conducted by James Levine. He sang Ramfis in Aida at San Francisco Opera, and the title role in Peter Sellars's new production of Hercules at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Concert engagements included Lodovico in Otello with the Chicago Symphony under Riccardo Muti in Chicago and New York. During 2011-2012, he embarks on a significant recital tour with pianists Robert Spano and Craig Rutenberg in cities that include Berkeley, Portland, Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, and Washington, DC; sings Bach cantatas with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and reprises Alberich in the Met's Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. He sings Beethoven's Missa solemnis with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston and New York, and Jochanaan in Strauss's Salome with The Cleveland Orchestra in Cleveland and at Carnegie Hall. In summer 2012, he reprises the role of the Storyteller in John Adams's A Flowering Tree with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and, as artist-in-residence at the Glimmerglass Festival, appears in Aida and Lost in the Stars and performs a jazz concert. Mr. Owens was acclaimed in the title role in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal's Grendel with Los Angeles Opera, and again at the Lincoln Center Festival in a Julie Taymor production. He created the role of General Leslie Groves in the world premiere of Adams's Doctor Atomic at San Francisco Opera, and of the Storyteller in the world premiere of A Flowering Tree. His Boston Symphony debut was under David Robertson in Adams's Nativity oratorio El Niño. Career operatic highlights include his San Francisco Opera debut in Otello; his Royal Opera, Covent Garden debut in Norma; Aida at Houston Grand Opera; Rigoletto, Il trovatore, and La bohème at Los Angeles Opera; Die Zauberflöte for his Paris Opera (Bastille) debut; Ariodante and L'incoronazione di Poppea at English National Opera; and Collatinus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia at Glimmerglass. He has recorded Mozart's Requiem and scenes from Strauss's Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Telarc), and A Flowering Tree (Nonesuch).

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  • Tanglewood Festival Chorus
    John Oliver, Conductor

    Organized in the spring of 1970 by founding conductor John Oliver, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus performs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra this season in excerpts from Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Mendelssohn's Lobgesang with Bramwell Tovey, Beethoven's Missa solemnis with Kurt Masur, Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem with Christoph von Dohnányi, and Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream music, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Bernard Haitink. Made up of members who donate their time and talent, and formed originally under the joint sponsorship of Boston University and the Boston Symphony Orchestra for performances during the Tanglewood season, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus now performs year-round with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops. It gave its first overseas performances in December 1994, with Seiji Ozawa and the BSO in Hong Kong and Japan, and performed with the BSO in Europe under James Levine in 2007 and Bernard Haitink in 2001, also giving a cappella concerts of its own on both occasions. The chorus has made dozens of recordings with the BSO and Boston Pops on Deutsche Grammophon, New World, Philips, Nonesuch, Telarc, Sony Classical, CBS Masterworks, RCA Victor Red Seal, and BSO Classics. Its most recent recordings on BSO Classics, all drawn from live performances, include a disc of a cappella music released to mark the ensemble's 40th anniversary in 2010, and, with James Levine and the BSO, Ravel's complete Daphnis et Chloé (a Grammy winner for Best Orchestral Performance of 2009), Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem, and William Bolcom's Eighth Symphony for chorus and orchestra, a BSO 125th Anniversary Commission composed specifically for the BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus. The chorus performed its Jordan Hall debut program at the New England Conservatory of Music in May 2004, had the honor of singing at Senator Edward Kennedy's funeral, has performed with the Boston Pops for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics, and can also be heard on the soundtracks to Clint Eastwood's Mystic River, John Sayles's Silver City, and Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan.

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Beethoven Missa Solemnis (Gloria: Quoniam tu solus sanctus)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Leonard Bernstein, Conductor; Hilversum Radio Chorus
Archiv Produktion

At a Glance

Beethoven’s Missa solemnis is one of the most significant works by one of the greatest of all composers. Though originally conceived for a specific occasion, this great, solemn, celebratory Mass far transcends its time, and can even seem almost too big for any mortally prescribed space. Beethoven intended the Missa solemnis for performance at the installation of his longtime patron, the Archduke Rudolph, as Archbishop of Olmütz in March 1820, but did not complete it until 1823. The premiere took place in April 1824, in St. Petersburg, under the auspices of another of his patrons, Prince Nikolai Galitzin. The first Vienna performance of three of its movements (the Kyrie, Credo, and Agnus Dei) took place the following month, on the very same concert as the premiere of the Ninth Symphony.

Beethoven’s exceedingly personal response to the Mass text is reflected in countless aspects of his setting: through his brilliantly varied uses of soloists, chorus, and orchestra to heighten the sense of the words on levels both communal and individual; through the enormous variety of musical textures and dynamics from beginning to end of the piece; through his use of musical imagery and patterns harking back to long-standing traditions and conventions in music written for the church; through his no-holds-barred demands on his performing forces (the choral parts in particular include extended passages where the difficulties of the Ninth Symphony’s finale pale by comparison); and through an overall conception that fully and convincingly evokes a world view with seemingly unlimited space for both the sacred and the secular.
Program Notes
This concert and the Choral Classics series are made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for choral music established by S. Donald Sussman in memory of Judith Arron and Robert Shaw.
This performance is part of Choral Ecstasy - Students, and Choral Classics.