Mozart's Coronation Mass

3rd September 2015

Mozart Coronation MassThe end of summer and the beginning of a new choral term brings with it a lot of planning of new musical ventures for any choir who always seeks to improve and provide its members with unique musical experiences.

Looking back, SCJ is truly living up to this statement. In fact, their last musical performance was this September when they executed the Mass in C major (KV 317), which is more popularly known as the 'Coronation Mass' by W.A. Mozart.

Mozart has completed this work in his hometown Salzburg on March 23rd 1779, after spending two years of unsuccessful job-hunting both in Paris and Mannheim. It was then his father Leopold who found him a job as organist and composer in Salzburg Cathedral. Most probably, this composition was first performed on Easter Sunday of the same year it was composed. Many believe that the Mass got the nickname 'Coronation' from the Imperial Court in Vienna in the 19th century since this was the favoured repertoire for royal coronations. The most famous performance remains that of Herbert von Karajan and that of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on June 29th 1985 where Pope Saint John Paul II was leading the sacred liturgy.

This masterpiece was rightly chosen to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of Priesthood of Mgr. Eucharist Sultana, former Xagħra Archpriest, who was instrumental in helping and supporting the choir throughout these last fifteen years of its existence.

The choir started full swing rehearsals in late July, working with conductor Josef Debrincat and Ann Marie Camilleri as their répétiteur. There were also combined rehearsals with orchestra and soloists Marouska Attard, Graziella Debattista, Edward Camilleri and Albert Buttigieg. The performance, which took place at the Basilica of Marija Bambina, Xagħra was exceedingly successful and it met the high expectations of the family and friends of Mgr. Eucharist Sultana. Further to the 'Coronation Mass', the choir also sang 'Ecce Sacerdos' by E. Elgar, the ever-popular choral pieces 'Jesu Joy' by J.S. Bach, 'Ave Verum Corpus' by W. Mozart and also 'Alleluia' written specifically for the occasion by the choir’s resident composer Paul Portelli. Additionally to this, soprano Marouska Attard also rendered beautifully the Marian hymn 'Salve Regina' by G. Puccini. Puccini wrote this sacred song for soprano and harmonium in 1882. This hymn was then later reused by the composer in his first opera 'Le Villi'.

Apart from being an experience that brought with it a lot of learning for the choristers and choir as a whole, let us also hope that this event likewise served to be a prime occasion for the people who attended, to appreciate and be more inclined to the world of classical music.

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