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Temple Square Chorale

April 23-24 (Fri, Sat) Sacred Joy: Music of Hope and Renewal, the spring concert of the Temple Square Chorale accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square at 7:30 p.m. in the Tabernacle.

The Chorale and the Battle of the Nile.
What do Napoleon and the Temple Square Chorale have in common?

A bit of history.

In 1798 composer Joseph Haydn, then at the pinnacle of his career, completed a Mass in D Minor what he titled Missa in Angustiis or “Mass for Troubled Times.” It was aptly named. Napoleon had marched across Europe winning four battles in Austria, crossing the Alps with his army and threatening to take Vienna. Napoleon invaded Egypt hoping to destroy Britain’s trade routes to the East.

But, on August 1, British Admiral Horatio Nelson dealt a stunning defeat to the ambitious French leader in the Battle of the Nile. It was at the first performance of Haydn’s Mass September 15, 1798 that the audience heard of Lord Nelson’s great victory. The coincidence stamped a nickname on Haydn’s great work: Lord Nelson Mass. It is one of the six masses written near the end of his life and considered his finest.

No wonder the Temple Square Chorale, known for its focus on major choral works–St. Matthew’s Passion by Bach, King David by Honegger and Requiem by Mozart-has spent Tuesday evenings since January 16th preparing to present the Haydn work. Ryan Murphy, named associate director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in March 2009, directs the Chorale. The April 23-24 concerts will be accompanied by members of the Orchestra at Temple Square.

Membership of the Chorale is varies from year to year. Each four-month session usually numbers between 70 and 80 members from the Choir Training School and is considered the preparatory ensemble for new singers in choir service. These singers are supplemented by other members from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to form an ensemble of 140 singers. This is the first Temple Square Chorale held in two years. Mack Wilberg conducted the Chorale from its beginning in 1999 until he became Music Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2008.

President Thomas S. Monson has encouraged the Tabernacle Choir to perform such great choral works recognizing that Choir members need the opportunity “to stretch.” Lord Nelson’s Mass is just such a musical masterpiece. Watch for a future issue of Choir Notes with ticket information about the April concert.

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