Performance Thursday, October 12, 2017 | 8 PM

Orchestra of St. Luke's

Mozart's "Great" Mass with Heras-Casado

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The spirit of Bach—particularly his Mass in B Minor—informs the grand choral writing of Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. The influence of the florid Italian operatic style is also evident in solo passages, gloriously so in the “Laudamus te,” a coloratura mezzo-soprano showpiece, and in the tender soprano aria “Et incarnatus est.” Beethoven took his own path, but his Symphony No. 1 honors Haydn’s symphonic model with more adventurous harmonies—especially in its opening—and a more robust role for winds and brass.


  • Orchestra of St. Luke's
    Pablo Heras-Casado, Conductor Laureate
  • Camilla Tilling, Soprano
  • Susanna Phillips, Soprano
  • Thomas Cooley, Tenor
  • Michael Sumuel, Bass-Baritone
  • Westminster Symphonic Choir
    Joe Miller, Conductor


  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1
  • MOZART Mass in C Minor, K. 427, "Great"


Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage with Walter Frisch, Professor of Music, Columbia University.

At a Glance

In the popular imagination, Mozart is often characterized as a fluid genius whose compositions flowed spontaneously and effortlessly from his mind to the page. Beethoven, by contrast, is often portrayed as the consummate romantic artist, boldly striving against convention and tortured by the loss of his hearing. The works heard tonight complicate these perceptions in striking ways, and in fact show Beethoven and Mozart playing against such stereotypes.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 was his first effort in one of the most prestigious genres for a composer of his day. In contrast to the boundary-pushing qualities of his later symphonies, in this early work Beethoven mostly plays it safe. He follows the rules (for the most part) codified by Mozart and one of his own teachers, Joseph Haydn, regarded as the undisputed master of the symphony genre. Through its relatively restrained scope and ethos, this symphony reminds us that Beethoven’s later iconoclasm came after a thorough mastery and understanding of convention.

The Mass in C Minor, by contrast, was Mozart’s last composition in the genre and a work borne of considerable personal and professional conflict, and ultimately was left unfinished. This massive setting of the Roman Catholic Mass pushes the boundaries of the genre to their breaking point, transforming a religious ritual into a spectacular operatic experience. In other words, while Beethoven’s First Symphony might come across as politely “Mozartean” in its restraint, Mozart’s bold C-Minor Mass has “Beethovenian” ambition to spare.
This concert is 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 Orchestra of St Luke's.