Mozart’s Requiem comes to Rome

Kendall Aronson, Campus Carrier Asst. Arts and Living Editor

Alexis Johnson | CAMPUS CARRIER

Berry Concert Choir, under the direction of Paul Neal, practices for performance of Mozart’s Requiem.

This Saturday and Sunday, the Berry College Choirs will be performing Mozart’s Requiem with the Rome Symphony Orchestra and other notable guests. 

Paul Neal, associate professor of music and director of choral activities, was approached by the Rome Symphony last semester and asked whether he would like to do the event.

“I think giving the students an opportunity to sing with a professional orchestra is the chance of a lifetime,” Neal said. “And to give a performance to not just the Berry community but to the Rome and North Georgia community as well is a really fun experience.”

The 70+ students have been working on this concert for five months.

“We’ve been doing the music all semester, we started in January, and the music is very difficult,” Neal said. “Learning an hour’s worth of music is a challenge, but the students have really risen to the challenge.”

The Requiem is 50 minutes of music without pause. It is also sung in Latin, which adds to its difficulty. 

“It is one of the most challenging works, and it deals with vocal agility,” junior Rachel Mayo, the Berry Choir’s Manager and assistant in Berry Singers, said. “A lot of the singers have to be able to sing a wide range of pitches and there are many different styles. Some movements are legato and require a lot of sensitivity and others are very bombastic.”

There will also be many distinguished guest soloists from other colleges throughout the southeast, such as Todd Wedge, Deborah Popham, Reverie Berger and Cory Schantz. This gives the students a unique opportunity to sing with professional musicians. 

“It’s the hardest music I have ever performed as a musician,” freshman Abby Mayne, a member of the Berry Singers said. “But that makes it more fun, because it is such a challenge.”

Mozart’s Requiem is a very challenging piece to sing. In addition, one of the groups, the Berry Singers, had to prepare another program for their Florida choir tour which they performed over Spring Break. 

“We worked on the Requiem for a while, and then had to learn entirely new music, then we went back to the Requiem,” Mayne said.

The piece also has a great deal of historical significance. It was the last piece Mozart wrote and was still left unfinished at his death. It was commissioned for a Funeral Mass, and today it is one of Mozart’s best-known pieces. 

“To experience the energy and the emotion of the work is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives,” Neal said. “And to experience that with a professional orchestra and a great choir is really a fantastic experience.”

It’s being performed at the newly restored Historic DeSoto Theater on Broad Street. 

The Saturday performance has already sold out, but tickets for the Sunday matinée are still available at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for seniors and $15 for adults.

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