BC Chorale performs Dvořák’s Mass in D major – The Torch
On Saturday, November 6, 2021, the University Choral of Boston College performed several choral pieces centered on Antonín Dvořák Mass in Re Major at Trinity Chapel on the Newton campus. The chorale was accompanied on the organ by Heinrch Christensen, musical director of the King’s Chapel in Boston.
The setting for Dvořák’s Mass was written in 1886 for his Czech art-lover friend and colleague Josef Hlávka who had recently built a new chapel at his summer residence, Luzany Castle in West Bohemia (modern Czech Republic) , and wished to have a new framework of mass for the occasion.
Within three months, Dvořák returned with the Mass in D major writing to Hlávka: “I am happy to report that I have completed the job and am extremely satisfied with the result. I think it will be a work that will perfectly suit its objective … I would also like to thank you for giving me the impetus to write a work of this kind, it would hardly have crossed my mind otherwise; until now, I had written only similar works of larger proportions with considerable means at my disposal.
In the same letter he wrote about the composition of the play as a deeply spiritual experience saying, “It could be called: faith, hope and love for Almighty God, and an expression of thanks. for this great gift, for having had the opportunity to succeed in completing a work in praise of the Most High and in honor of our art. Don’t be surprised that I am so devout, but an artist who isn’t can do no such thing. Take the examples of Beethoven, Bach, Raphael and many others.
Immediately after the play was released to the public, she received exceptional praise. A journalist wrote about it in the Musical Notice, saying: “All are now ready to lend an attentive ear to whatever the master of Bohemia may have to say; and, while aware that the reader will have formed an unusually high opinion of the service, I cannot help but say that we have here a framework of the Creed which is calculated to create a deep and lasting impression. It is truly a magnificent piece of music, as it can only be written at rare intervals, even by a Dvořák.
Over a hundred years later, in a crowded Trinity Chapel, the play has been performed flawlessly and with great effect. Choir member James O’Donovan, MCAS ’24, spoke of his experience, saying: “Singing the Dvořák Mass in D was an amazing experience. The Choir spent a lot of time rehearsing for the concert throughout the semester and getting it all together was an exciting time, especially since this was the Choir’s first live concert since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “
“The way Dvořák has organized his pieces perfectly conveys the parts of the Mass with all of its dynamic moments and ethereal movements. It was a fantastic concert to bring the Choir back on stage, ”added O’Donovan.
In addition to the performance of the Chorale du Mass in D major, the Chamberists of the University Choir performed two pieces: The road home by Stephen Paulus and I will look up, a setting to music of Psalm 121 by Jake Runestad.