One of Ludwig van Beethoven’s final orchestral works, Missa Solemnis, will finally be experienced in Oulu on Thursday 2.3. The work can be regarded as the culmination of Beethoven’s career and life. The Missa Solemnis, which was completed at the same time as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in 1823, has been compared to J.S. Bach’s great masses, but its drama has been regarded as more so operatic than religious in nature, which is why it is more frequently performed in concert halls rather than cathedrals.

The massive work will be conducted by the Brazilian Eduardo Strausser, who has guested in Oulu a few times already. The one-and-a-half-hour-long work requires an unusually large ensemble, and a large symphony choir will be heard alongside the orchestra. The choir will consist of the Estonian Voces Tallinn choir, directed by Kristi Jagodin, as well as a local project choir assembled and directed by Mihkel Koldits. The soloists for the Missa Solemnis concert will be the leading opera singers of the country, the soprano Silja Aalto, who charmed in the Oulu production of The Magic Flute, the mezzo-soprano Jeni Packalen, tenor Jussi Myllys and baritone Nicholas Söderlund.

The second seasonal concert in March, Once Upon a Time in Italy (Thursday 30.3.), will take the listener on an imaginary journey to Italy. The English Gabriella Teychenné will conduct works which were inspired by Italy, albeit not necessarily authentic Italian music. The opening piece will be an overture by the Viennese Franz Schubert, which is an almost exact copy of the style of Gioachino Rossini, the most popular opera composer of his time. Hugo Wolf also tried to capture the essence of Sicily in his Italian Serenade. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s most dramatic orchestral work Francesda da Rimini, on the other hand, tells the story of a beautiful woman suffering in hell, inspired by Dante Alighieri.

The soloist piece of the concert takes the listener straight into the world of Italian folk songs and fables, although only a portion of the songs in Luciano Berio’s Folksongs cycle are actually based on old folk melodies. Some of them are created entirely by the composer himself, while others are more so parodies of the originals. The soloist for this most-performed and beloved work of Berio will be the mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez, who recently joined the Vienna State Opera and will be making her debut in Oulu.

The Oulu Music Festival in March

The Oulu Symphony Orchestra has performed at the Oulu Music Festival every year during the festival’s history. At the Svängfonia concert (Thursday 16.3.) the harmonica quartet Sväng will be performing symphonic music. The principal theme of the concert is tango, but the musical journey will eclipse genre boundaries. On Thursday 23.3. we will be able to enjoy Samuli Edelmann’s touching songs from his Vaiheet album together with the symphony orchestra. Samuli Edelmann came out with this album 1997, which earned cult status and included his father Toni Edelmann’s compositions to texts written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Hermannn Hesse, and William Shakespeare, among others.

The Spring Chamber Series Continues

In March, the Oulu Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Musicians’ spring chamber series will also continue. On Friday 3.3. the chamber musicians will head over to the Poiju hall at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences, where the concert will begin at 6 pm. The same concert will be performed on Saturday 4.3. at the Tulindberg Hall at the Oulu Music Centre from 3 pm onwards. There is free entry to the chamber concerts. The works performed in the concerts range from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. The listener will embark on an auditory journey through the romantic and impressionistic melodies.

Text: Oulu Symphony Orchestra
Photo: Virginie Verrez, c Dario Acosta