ProMusica tuning up for Mozart 'Mass'

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David Danzmayr will conduct the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra in a performance of Mozart's Mass in C Minor Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Pontifical College Josephinum, and Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Southern Theatre. Tickets are $10-$49. Visit

Having a music director who is European is paying off for ProMusica Chamber Orchestra audiences, as two pieces infrequently performed in the U.S. but well-known by European audiences make up the orchestra's program for concerts this weekend.

At the same time, the performance will take on a decidedly local tone.

That the program's central work was composed by one of history's greatest and well-known composers makes its relative popularity all the more surprising. Music Director David Danzmayr told The Beat that the Mozart Mass in C Minor is a favorite of his father's (the senior Danzmayr also is a conductor) and contains some of the composer's most astounding work, despite the fact it often takes a back seat to his Coronation Mass or Requiem.

"I understand why (my father loved it). It's an absolutely fantastic piece," Danzmayr said.

"From the first time I heard it, I kind of felt like this is one of the great pieces."

The Mass was undertaken, at least in part, as a gift to the composer's bride, Constanze, who sang the soprano solo at the composition's premiere in 1783. At the time, Mozart also was inspired by his recent reintroduction to the work of Handel and Bach. Yet the Mass in C Minor was never completed -- at its premiere, Mozart supplemented the finished portion with music borrowed from his other works.

"There is no real answer why it was unfinished, although there are many theories," Danzmayr said.

He said the composer did some additional work, sketching out but never completing the unfinished sections. Completing the work has been undertaken on a number of occasions -- Danzmayr said the version most often performed, and that ProMusica will use, is widely accepted as the authoritative version.

The Mozart Mass is paired with a contemporary work, Giya Kacheli's Midday Prayers, a work Danzmayr first encountered as a student at a workshop for which Kacheli was the featured composer.

"I conducted the piece as a student conductor and immediately liked it. It's meditative but also very emotional. I'm very happy to bring it to American audiences."

ProMusica will be joined by four soloists, three of whom are central Ohio residents. Canadian soprano Martha Guth will be featured on both pieces. Joining her on the Mozart will be soprano Peggy Kriha Dye, the general manager for Opera Columbus; baritone Robert Kerr of Canal Winchester; and Marysville native and Dublin resident Benjamin Bunsold, tenor.

Also joining ProMusica for the Mozart piece is the Lancaster Chorale.

"We identified that ensemble very early on in preparing for this piece as a high-level chamber chorus that we would like to collaborate with," Danzmayr said.

"It will be great to see how these two organizations can feed off of each other."

Danzmayr said he expects the combination of program and performers to be rewarding for audiences.

"We need to bring out these works and show why it's worth it to audiences to have an interest in this music, especially if they haven't heard these pieces."