Diocesan Festival Chorus guest soloists, from left, Jeffrey Welcher, Zachary Robison and Hanna Lambertz. (submitted photo)
On Sunday, Nov. 18, Syracuse’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception located at 259 E. Onondaga Street hosts the Diocesan Festival Chorus performing Charles Gounod’s Messe Solennelle de Sainte-Cécile at 2 p.m. Known to many simply as St. Cecilia Mass, the masterwork was premiered in 1855 at the Church of St Eustache, Paris to celebrate the feast day of St. Cecilia, the patron Saint of Music.
Guest soloists Hannah Lambertz, Zachary Robison and Jeffrey Welcher join the newly formed chorus of 80 voices along with orchestral players from the surrounding area. The performance conducted by Peter Ciarelli, director of the Cazenovia College Chorale is free and open to the public.
The impetus for this performance began with Megan Fallon, a parishioner at St. James Church in Cazenovia, who sang the piece with the Cazenovia College Community Chorale last spring. She hoped to bring Gounod’s lyrical creation to the recently renovated downtown cathedral to celebrate St. Cecilia Day, and she invited singers from all the diocese parishes to participate.
The chorus has been rehearsing weekly in preparation for the Nov. 18 event which also coincides with the close of the “Year of the Family” for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse.
Although not widely performed, The Saint Cecilia Mass solidified Charles Gounod’s reputation as a composer, best known for his opera Faust.
Composer Camille Saint-Saëns sitting in the audience at the premier said, “The appearance of the Messe Saint-Cécile caused a kind of shock. This simplicity, this grandeur, this serene light which rose before the musical world like a breaking dawn, troubled people enormously … at first one was dazzled, then charmed, then conquered.”
For anyone who would like a ride to and from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, there will be a bus from the Cazenovia High School parking lot leaving at 12:45 p.m. for a cost of $20. Call Megan Fallon at 315-727-6336 to sign up or for more information.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.