Choristers who go with Berkshire Choral Festival to Sonoma State University next June will have the amazing experience of singing in a brand new concert hall. The Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall is the centerpiece of the Green Music Center, which has its grand opening at the end of this month.
A world-class venue with superb acoustics, the Weill Hall seats 1,400. It was acoustically designed to rival great concert halls such as Boston Symphony Hall and Vienna Musikvereinssaal. All three floors of Weill Hall are filled with handcrafted, European steamed beech maple seats, which remain acoustically neutral whether occupied or empty. Additionally, the modular rear wall of Weill Hall opens fully, extending the concert experience to an outdoor audience of up to 3,000.
The magnificent coastline, award-winning wineries and stately redwoods are all part of what awaits those who want to attend BCF's first singing week in California.
In addition to working with conductor Joshua Habermann and the Santa Rosa Symphony, choristers will enjoy the university's close relationship to local nature, with miles of walking trails and fantastic access to redwood trees.
Sonoma State University Campus
Housing on the campus is in four-bedroom, four-bathroom townhouses. Single and double occupancy are available. Each townhouse has a kitchen and living room area. All meals are included and are served on campus. Rehearsals and classes will also take place on the campus. Afternoons are free to explore all that this area has to offer, as well as one full day off during the week for exploring farther from campus. Optional tours will be available.
In Sonoma, choristers will sing two great works from the choral repertoire, the Mozart Requiem and the Bach Magnificat.
The story of the composition of the Requiem is almost as dramatic and mysterious as the way it was re-imagined in Peter Schaffer's play "Amadeus."
Commissioned by Count von Walsegg in February 1791 for his deceased 20-year-old wife, Mozart had not finished the Requiem by the time of his own death in December 1791. Ironically, it was first performed as a memorial for the composer. His wife gave the score to Franz Xavier Süssmayer, with whom Mozart had discussed the finished movements. One copy of the finished score was sent to Breitkopf for publishing and the other finally went to Count von Walsegg. It wasn't until December 1794 that the Requiem was performed in memory of the Count's wife.
Mozart's autograph score
Other composers made changes to the score over the years. The choristers will use the Bärenreiter edition of the score finished by Süssmayer.
The Magnificat is an ancient Christian hymn based on Luke 1:46-55. When Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with the son who will be known as John the Baptizer, the child leaps in Elizabeth's womb. Elizabeth is seized by the Holy Spirit and given knowledge of Mary's own miraculous pregnancy. Mary's response is, "My soul doth magnify the Lord!" It is a joyous canticle, celebrating the raising up of a lowly maiden to be the mother of the Messiah rather than someone well-born and wealthy.
Bach composed his setting of the Magnificat in 1723 for Christmas Vespers; he later revised it, changing the key and taking out music that was strictly for the Christmas season so that it could be used all year long.