250 perform for Mozart’s 250th

Thursday, November 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:40 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tonight, the University Philharmonic and the Choral Union mark the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birthday with a performance of his “Requiem.”

Appropriately, there are about 250 performers. The Choral Union, now in its 31st year, is comprised of not only students but members of the MU faculty and of the community.

“This event represents the collaboration of students and members of the community in a unique and important way that draws people together — a valuable exercise in Columbia and all communities,” Paul Crabb, director of choral activities at MU and conductor of this performance, wrote in an e-mail after Tuesday’s rehearsal.

Crabb wrote that his goal at rehearsal is to help the performers achieve a deeper understanding of the works, improve their musical abilities and achieve a performance standard that the audience can appreciate.

“We lift on the dot,” he told the musicians at one point during a rehearsal Tuesday evening in Jesse Auditorium. “We put lots of energy in the eighth note. Everyone.”

Peter Hasselriis, a former music teacher and professor in the MU College of Education, has been a member of the Choral Union throughout its existence, taking only a few years off.

“It gives me a wonderful way to keep doing good music,” he said. “It’s a very satisfying experience for me.”

Brandon Hodge, a senior majoring in music and a member of the Choral Union, said he likes how the ensemble brings students and community members together.

“They love to sing with the students, and they love to sing the music,” he said. “That’s why they keep coming back.”

Crabb wrote that his job is to focus the musicians on a unified interpretation of the music and on expressing that interpretation.

“Anytime we as musicians have a chance to study and perform a great work from some of the greatest musical minds of Western civilization, we pursue it with a passion,” he said.

Crabb wrote that his favorite part about conducting so many people is the sense of accomplishment he gets when they strive to help each other reach a common goal.

“We all need to try to reach our potential in order to enhance not only our experience and understanding, but those participating with us,” he said. “This is a truly cooperative, collaborative event that none of us could do individually. We have people from 18 to people in their 70s all trying to accomplish the same goal.”

Crabb wrote that the presentation of Mozart’s “Requiem” will showcase the composer’s ability to “write beautiful melodies and exciting, interesting harmonies to express the text.” The composer, who was born in January 1756, died before he finished the work.

Ned Horner, a graduate student and member of the University Philharmonic, said the piece should be enough to draw a big crowd.

“If Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ is happening, that’s an event,” he said.

Hodge said he is excited about tonight’s concert. “The energy from the crowd always makes for a good performance,” he said.

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