Musical Masterpiece 'Verdi Requiem' to Be Performed

Musical Masterpiece 'Verdi Requiem' to Be Performed


SUNY Cortland’s Performing Arts Department, The Arts at Grace and the McNeil Development Company present the "Verdi Requiem," one of the great works for chorus and orchestra, on Friday, May 3 and Sunday, May 5.

Friday’s concert will begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday’s performance is at 3 p.m. in the former United Community Church at 19 Church St. in Cortland. The concert is free and open to the public. Donations are welcome.

Stephen B. Wilson, performing arts professor (music) will conduct. The beauty of the "Requiem" drew him into a career in conducting when he first sang the work as a freshman at the University of California at Santa Barbara. 

Renowned Verdi scholar David Rosen, professor emeritus of musicology (opera) at Cornell University, will present a pre-concert talk at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The Sunday concert also will be followed by an informal reception at 19 Church St. where audience members can meet and talk with the musicians.  

Composed by Giuseppe Verdi in 1873, the work has long been recognized as one of the most remarkable musical works ever composed. The "Verdi Requiem" is highly dramatic and challenging to perform, requiring a chorus of about 100 singers, a full professional orchestra of more than 40 members and four soloists.

Though the text of the "Requiem" is by definition a somber one, the breadth of the musical invention in this work is astonishing, from the dramatic trumpet call from the balcony of the “Tuba Mirum” and the terrifying sounds of the “Dies irae,” to the very personal plea for salvation by the soloists. Written to honor the memory of Verdi’s close friend, the great Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni, the piece is at once both monumental and deeply personal.

The chorus for this concert is made up of members of SUNY Cortland’s College Singers and the Choral Union. The College Singers is an all-student ensemble at SUNY Cortland, while the Choral Union is made up of members from the College and the community.

Singers, orchestra members and soloists represent surrounding areas that include Binghamton, N.Y., Ithaca, N.Y., and Syracuse, N.Y.

Soprano Tamara Acosta, of Ithaca, is a highly experienced soloist who has sung with many opera companies including Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Santa Fe Opera.

Mezzo-soprano Ivy Walz, also from Ithaca, has performed with the Des Moines Metro and Cincinnati Operas and the Spoleto Festival, USA. She is on the voice faculty at Ithaca College.

Tenor Jonathan Howells, of Syracuse, most recently sang in Syracuse Opera’s production of "Sweeney Todd." He has appeared in a number of venues nationally from Syracuse to Texas.

Bass-baritone David Neal, chair of the Performing Arts Department at SUNY Cortland and artistic director of The Arts at Grace, has performed regionally, nationally and internationally in operas and concerts.

The Arts at Grace is a community outreach of Grace and Holy Spirit Church. The series offers all of its concerts free of charge. Generous contributors making the Verdi Requiem possible include regional businesses and individuals. Major financial supporters include CNY Arts/NYSCA, Cortland Community Foundation, Wilkins Foundation, First Niagara Foundation, Tompkins Trust Company, McNeil Development Company and St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.

For more information, contact the Grace and Holy Spirit Church at 607-753-3073.