Vivaldi's 'Gloria' To Be Presented Twice

Three choral directors, Dr. Laura Wiebe, assistant music professor of Central Methodist University and conductor of the Conservatory Singers, Vanessa Miner, director of Fayette High School’ chorus, and Warner Bailey, director of the chorus in Boonville, have received the Presidents’ Grant from the Missouri Choral Directors Association to support a combined choral presentation of Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria.”

The three were awarded $1,500 to enable their three chorales to present “Gloria” twice, once in Fayette and once in Boonville. They will be accompanied by the Missouri Symphony Conservatory Chamber Players, a select group of advanced string and wind players, hand-picked from the Junior Sinfonia and the Young Artist Philharmonic, directed by Kirk Trevor.

Trevor, an internationally recognized conductor originally from England is known for his innovative programming and a focus on reaching new audiences with music that is entertaining, engaging, and educational. He founded the Missouri Symphony Conservatory to train, educate, and inspire young musicians in 2007.

The performances will occur in Fayette at Linn Memorial United Methodist Church on the Central Methodist University campus on Sunday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m.; and in Boonville at Thespian Hall on Sunday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m. Both performances are free and open to the public.

The orchestra will be joined in both concerts by Dr. John Perkins, CMU professor of music, on trumpet; Dr. Melissa Simons, CMU assistant professor of music, on harpsichord; and guest Kristin Chisham on oboe.

Supporting the joint chorus will be soloists McKenna Nelson (CMU senior music major from Macon) and Cayla Carr (CMU senior music education major from Mount Sterling) for the Fayette concert; and Kay Wilken Neas (CMU senior music education major from Fayette) and Marissa Dickman (CMU freshman music major from Maryland Heights) for the concert in Boonville.

This performance represents the first collaboration between a CMU ensemble and the Missouri Symphony Conservatory Players. The Players will also present a set of music before the Vivaldi “Gloria.”

The Missouri Choral Directors Association Presidents’ Grant was created in 2015 for the betterment of choral music programs throughout the state of Missouri via a generous gift from past MCDA president Noel Fulkerson.

“Gloria” is one of three settings Vivaldi wrote of the hymn “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” whose words probably date from the 4th century and which is part of the Catholic mass. One of the settings is lost to history. This version was probably written in 1715 and called RV589, the most widely known and performed “Gloria.”

This “Gloria” was supposedly created for the choir of the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for girls. The Ospedale prided itself on the quality of its musical education and the excellence of its choir and orchestra. Vivaldi spent most of his career there as priest, music teacher, and virtuoso violinist. He composed many sacred works for the Ospedale, as well as hundreds of instrumental concertos to be played by the girls’ orchestra. “Gloria” is his most famous choral piece.

The sunny nature of the “Gloria,” with its distinctive melodies and rhythms gives it an immediate and universal appeal. The movements show broad and rhythmic characteristics, each changing the tone and color from the one before.

Today Vivaldi is one of the most popular of all composers, who during his lifetime enjoyed considerable success and fortune. Sadly, he squandered his money, and when he died in Vienna he was buried in a pauper’s grave.

The “Gloria” lay undiscovered until the late 1920s, when it was found buried among a pile of forgotten Vivaldi manuscripts. It was performed in 1939 by the composer Alfredo Casella, who embellished the original orchestration, reduced the role of the continuo, and cut sections from three movements.

It was not until 1957 that the now familiar original version was published and given its first performance.

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