Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Giving Mozart a Voice Chorally Concert Combines Symphony Groups

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Giving Mozart a Voice Chorally Concert Combines Symphony Groups

Article excerpt

Mozart's Requiem, the Austrian composer's haunting last work, will come to life Thursday through the voices and instruments of the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus and Orchestra in "Mozart's Last Testament."

The concert, which will also feature Mozart's Symphony No. 39, presents an opportunity for Jacksonville audiences to hear the work of James Morrow, the symphony's new choral director, a position created recently by music director and conductor Fabio Mechetti.

Morrow is excited that the chorus of about 130 voices will get to make its season debut with Mozart's Requiem, a piece he believes will show off the chorus' vocal talent.

"Mozart is a fabulous way to begin the season for the chorus," he said, "and it is a great thing for me to begin my work with the chorus on that piece because it is such a beloved piece and rewarding work to sing."

Morrow, an associate professor of music and director of choral activities at the University of Florida, recently conducted performances of the Verdi Requiem, the Bach B Minor Mass and Haydn's The Creation. But he spends much of his time working with UF's concert choirs and a capella groups. He has had to switch gears a little in working with a symphonic choir.

"There are definite differences in preparing a symphony chorus as opposed to what you might call more of a concert choir or a capella group," Morrow said. "Singing with an orchestra demands certain disciplines from the chorus. I think the first thing that comes to mind is rhythmic precision. Choirs tend to be pretty smooth instruments. They perform pretty naturally in a legato fashion. For orchestras, we have to build the rhythmic aspects of the singing.

"The rhythmic intensity that is needed in general is especially needed here [for the Requiem] because there is a great deal of contrapuntal writing for the chorus, that complex fabric of voice lines that has to be executed very cleanly and precisely. There is also a wide range of colors that the chorus needs to be able to sing, from extremely forceful moments to moments that are magical and almost childlike in simplicity. …

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