Christchurch St Laurence at Sydney’s Railway Square celebrates the the 166th anniversary of the dedication of the church (1845) with a Orchestral Mass this Sunday. For this major milestone, they have selected to perform Haydn’s Nelson Mass.
There are varying accounts of how the Nelson Mass acquired its nickname. One explanation is that it was performed when Nelson visited Eisenstadt in 1800. Another refers to the trumpets at the beginning of the Benedictus depicting Nelson’s victory over Napoleon in the battle of Aboukir Bay in 1798, whilst Haydn was writing this mass. The composer’s own name for this work was the Missa in Angustiis (Mass for Times of Distress) and indeed the Kyrie with its austere opening of descending octaves creates a deep disquiet before the more optimistic Gloria.
Whatever the tale, Haydn’s Mass in D minor is reputedly one of his best and most loved works. The choir and orchestra, directed by Dr Neil McEwen are joined by soprano Amy Corkery, mezzo-soprano Amanda Wagg, tenor Pascal Herrington and bass Alexander Knight, who are all members of the Opera School from the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. They have already performed a number of solo roles at the Conservatorium and all four of them are maintaining the Classical frame of mind with roles in the Conservatorium’s current production of Mozart’s La Finta Gardiniera.
The performance is integrated into the church service and is expected to last approximately 2 hours.