Only one local performance of the work J.S. Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” has been chronicled in the last 20 years. Now Tucson audiences will have the opportunity to hear it performed this weekend when Tucson Chamber Artists – Southern Arizona’s professional chamber choir and orchestra – will present the epic piece Feb. 18-20 at three locations across the city.
Concerts are scheduled for Friday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at St. Francis in the Valley Episcopal Church, 600 S. La Cañada in Green Valley; Saturday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Catalina Foothills High School auditorium, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive in Tucson; and Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2331 E Adams St. in Tucson.
Tickets for performances are $20 and $30 for adults and free for students in grade K-12 and college.
Tickets are available at www.TucsonChamberArtists.org, or by calling 401-2651.
Bach’s masterpiece is a compendium of his life’s work and a monument to western art. The Baroque master excelled at nearly every classical music genre in prolific style, leading many music critics, including Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times, to consider him among the greatest composers who ever lived. Undoubtedly his greatest accomplishment, the “Mass in B Minor,” offers a deep look into the profound workmanship, genius and spirituality that characterized the life of this musical icon.
TCA’s performance strikes a balance between historical performance traditions and modern conventions. To the former, TCA will utilize Austro-Germanic pronunciation of the Latin text, undoubtedly the colloquial approach used by Bach’s choir. It will use soloists, or concertists, for portions of and for entire choral movements in recognition of the most current scholarship concerning the size of Bach’s choir in Leipzig, Germany. TCA also will utilize a standing formation for the choir in which the concertists are assembled in front of the rest of the choir for the entire performance.
To the latter, modern instruments and pitch will be used, as well as female singers instead of boys, as in Bach’s day. A standard-sized choral ensemble indicative of organizations like TCA as well as modern church choirs will be used in place the smaller choir of only eight members Bach is believed to have used. TCA’s performances will use 26 singers and 24 instrumentalists.
Featured soloists include top Tucson talent and nationally-recognized artists. They are TCA concertmaster and violin soloist Aaron Boyd, who is also concertmaster of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra; oboe soloist Lillian Copeland, the new principal oboist with the TSO; horn soloist Johanna Lundy, the principal horn with the TSO; and flute soloist Paula Redinger, the principal flute with the Arizona Opera Orchestra.
Additional Tucsonan soloists include Erika Burkhart, a previous soloist with the TSO and the TCA; Kathryn Mueller, a principal soprano of the TCA and a previous soloist with the TSO, TCA, Arizona Opera and Santa Fe Pro Musica; Bryan Van Gelder, the principal bass of the TCA; and Perla Villa, a previous soloist with both the TSO and TCA.
Other soloists include David Farwig of Denver, who has appeared at the Oregon Bach Festival and with the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Pro Musica and Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra; Helen Karloski of New York, who has performed with the New York Choral Artists and is a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the New York Cantata Singers; Thea Lobo of Boston, a soloist with the Handel and Haydn Society; and Owen McIntosh of Boston, who has performed with the Boston Baroque and soloed with the Festival Ensemble Stuttgart.