Here is the introduction, more to follow, including some very helpful guidance about learning the work at home, in the sectional rehearsal, and during the course.
HD: When did you first sing in a performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis?
AK: Well it was in 1978, I think March, with the Nottingham Harmonic Society conducted by Andrew Burnham, in the old Albert Hall Institute. Nearly thirty years ago.
HD: Or nearly forty years ago?
AK: You’re right. How time flies!
HD: Tell us a little about that experience.
AK: It was the first time I’d heard the work, I didn’t even know it existed really, and I thought it was fantastic, quite hard. Some bits are really easy and then other bits are absolute killers – fugues, because they’re so quick. There are still about 8 bars I’ve never known anybody sing properly. If you’re an alto, like me, you get to a certain page and you hear, “Can’t sing that bit.” [Laughs] But… with lots of slow practising…!
As you can see on my copy [from when I sang it], it has instructions written all over it, and beats in the bar for all the syncopated stuff. Fortunately, lots of it is doubled up in the orchestra.
HD: Do you have a favourite movement?
AK: Well the Credo and the Gloria are just wonderful, then from where the Praeludium starts and leads into the Benedictus, it has a divine violin solo, the basses sing a few notes and a quartet of soloists comes in, followed by the choir. A land of repose in all the excitement that’s going on. [Laughs again]
HD: What led you to choose this work for the Nottingham Festival Chorus?
AK: Well I thought it was about time we did something we could really get our teeth into, and I thought that no one else had done it for years, as far as I can remember. Or did the Bach Soc? Anyway, it will be a wonderful experience.
To be continued…