La Jolla Symphony & Chorus tackles rare Beethoven piece

Ludwig van Beethoven’s rarely-heard masterpiece “Missa Solemnis,” will be performed Dec. 4 and 5 in UCSD’s Mandeville Auditorium by the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus under the baton of Steven Schick.

The second concert in the season “Face the Music: Experiences for the Ears and the Eyes,” the performances will present audiences with one of the great spectacles of the early 19


century and the first San Diego performance of this masterpiece in more than 20 years. The 80-minute concert will be performed without intermission. A pre-concert lecture is offered one hour prior to concert times.

Joining the orchestra and chorus will be guest soloists soprano Natalie Mann, mezzo-soprano Ava Baker Liss, tenor Tom Oberjat, and bass-baritone Tom Corbeil.

“Missa Solemnis” was composed for the installation of Beethoven’s pupil and friend Archduke Rudolph as an archbishop. Written between 1819 and 1823, the “Missa Solemnis” cost the German composer more time and work than any other composition, with the exception of “Fidelio.” The finished piece was presented to Rudolph in 1823, three years after his installation.

Its was first performed in 1824 in St. Petersburg, and since, rarely performed in part because of its complexity and grand scale. It is considered one of Beethoven’s major life achievements and one of the most significant mass settings.

The fact that “Missa Solemnis” and Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” are virtual contemporaries is instructive. In the Ninth, Beethoven reverted to his heroic style and wrote a dramatic symphony that achieves the same transcendence and triumph as the “Eroica” and “Fifth Symphony.” Performances of the “Ninth Symphony” invariably bring audiences to their feet, swept up in Beethoven’s grand proclamation of the brotherhood of all men. Not so with the “Missa Solemnis.” With its emphasis on lyricism, inwardness, and contrapuntal writing, the Missa is firmly in Beethoven’s late style, one that strives toward the expression of an inner truth rather than public celebration. The music and the issues it confronts take us deep inside Beethoven’s soul – and inside our own.

The nonprofit LJS&C, now in its 56


season, is San Diego’s oldest and largest community orchestra and chorus. It boasts a 110-person orchestra and 130-person chorus that performs groundbreaking orchestral and choral music along with traditional favorites from the classical repertoire. —Diane Salisbury, LJS&C

If you go


LJS&C presents Beethoven’s ‘Missa Solemnis’


: 8 p.m. Dec. 4; 3 p.m. Dec. 5


Mandeville Auditorium, UCSD campus


$29-$15; weekend parking is free


(858) 534-4637.