The CBS Orchestra will present a free hour-long concert featuring two dramatic works by Beethoven on Sunday, 8 March, at 3 pm in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Manchester Street. His sombre Introduction to Christ on the Mount of Olives will precede the monumental Eroica Symphony No.3. The CBS Orchestra will be led by Natalia M. Lomeiko and Musical Director will be Don Whelan.
Each work dates from 1803, while Beethoven was confronting his impending deafness. In his only oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives, he vividly depicts anguish and ultimate resignation. The relatively brief Introduction functions like an overture to a sacred opera. It establishes a tragic, profound mood with evocative orchestration, including a chilling role for the timpani. To enable a young and challenging composer to be heard, the premiere became part of a marathon presentation of his first two symphonies and third piano concerto to an exhausted Viennese audience.
The famous Eroica Symphony was written immediately following this concert. Beethoven described it as “the biggest work he had written so far, and added, “I think heaven and earth must tremble beneath us when it is performed.” He had initially hoped that his former hero, Napoleon, would accept the dedication of the new symphony, which was to bear the title Bonaparte, as he saw him as the liberator of the downtrodden, a destroyer of oppression and class distinction, and the driving force for a democratic Europe. But on learning in 1804 that Napoleon had declared himself Emperor, he tore through the paper to destroy the name Bonaparte, and wrote instead: Heroic Symphony composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.
The music is both vigorous and noble, and reshapes the scope and scale of even the greatest symphonies of Haydn and Mozart. Although profound personal grief underpins the massive funeral march which comprises the slow movement, it eventually finds the musical catharsis which was ultimately to lead in his future symphonic creations to a Hymn of Joy.
This year CBS Music places a special focus on Beethoven for the 250th anniversary year. They intend to present later performances of his 5th Symphony, Choral Fantasy, and Hallelujah Chorus and the Christmas Midnight Mass will feature his Mass in C Major. Other regular performances will include the Bach St John Passion on Good Friday at 8 pm, and Handel’s Messiah on 13 December, and their annual Haydn concert on Sunday 27 September will include the London Symphony 104 and Harmoniemesse.
The cathedral musicians maintain an extensive repertoire of masses and motets, sung each Sunday at the 10.30 a.m. Solemn Choral Mass. New members are welcome to the 7.30 pm Wednesday evening rehearsal at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. Sight reading ability is expected. Opportunities exist for choral leaders, who enjoy unique opportunities to perform solo roles in significant Mass and motet settings with the orchestra and choir. Leadership awards, and other scholarships are available to suitable applicants. Those interested are invited to contact the CBS Musical Director, Don Whelan, phone 358-5873.