All-Mozart Holiday Gala to showcase student and professional talent in Royce Hall

Holiday Gala, featuring two Mozart masterpieces, to showcase student and professional talent in Royce Hall

Published December 2, 2010 in A&E, Music
Updated: 9:08 AM

This Saturday, Royce Hall is decking its halls with the classical sounds of Mozart, marking the end of the quarter and the start of the holiday season.

Showcasing the UCLA Chorale, University Chorus and the UCLA Philharmonia, the All-Mozart Holiday Gala will feature two of Mozart’s masterpieces, the “Sinfonia Concertante” and “Mass in C minor.”

“This a very special concert,” said Neal Stulberg, director of orchestral studies at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music and conductor of the “Mass in C minor.” “Although Mozart wrote many great works, he really put his very best efforts into both pieces on this program. They are among his most profound and beloved works.”

Mozart’s “Mass in C minor” will feature 250 members of the UCLA Chorale, University Chorus and the UCLA Philharmonia, including four vocal soloists who are all students.

“Mozart wrote this piece just after he got married and dedicated it to his wife,” Stulberg said. “But he never finished it. We don’t know why … but it exists even in its unfinished form as one of his greatest masterpieces. It’s a piece of great power, endless invention and sincere devotion.”

The other half of the performance will be the “Sinfonia Concertante,” a duet between violin and viola, backed by an orchestra. Performing the solos are professional musicians and UCLA professors Guillaume Sutre and Richard O’Neill.

“Our two soloists are among the finest Mozart performers on the international stage today,” Stulberg said. “And I’m proud to call them my colleagues and friends.”

O’Neill, a graduate of Juilliard School of Music, will be playing the viola in the “Sinfonia Concertante.”

“It really is a masterwork,” said O’Neill in regard to the concertante. “It encompasses a lot of emotion. It’s an exciting and beautiful piece.”

Conducting the concertante is doctoral student Rebecca Lord, who is not only a student in chorale conducting, but also a singer, actress, dancer, violinist and violist.

According to Stulberg, it is quite a significant achievement for a student to be conducting a performance on such a large scale.

“(She) is a very unusual young musician,” Stulberg said.

Sutre, who is playing violin, said that he is very excited about Saturday’s collaborative performance.

“To play with (O’Neill) is extremely amazing for me,” Sutre said. “He’s an incredible musician. Every time we play together, it’s a very exciting moment.”

Sutre will be playing a UCLA-owned Stradivarius violin, one of the top violins in the world. Known for being produced in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Stradivarius now sells for upward of a million dollars.

Besides showcasing the prodigious works of Mozart, the All-Mozart Holiday Gala will also be an opportunity for students to demonstrate what they have been learning all year.

“These groups have been preparing this performance for the entire fall quarter,” Stulberg said. “This concert is the culmination of their efforts. … It’s a real celebration.”

According to the musicians involved, the performance will offer something for everyone.

“We always say that (Mozart) is universal music,” Sutre said.
Encompassing solo as well as group performances, the All-Mozart Holiday Gala marks the start of the holiday season for Royce Hall.

“Everyone loves Mozart,” Stulberg said. “Even audience members who have never attended a classical concert will be thrilled by the sheer power of the sound that comes off the stage with this many performers. And I know (they) will come out of a concert like this refreshed and inspired.”