Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ on menu for community concert on Sunday

One of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most well-known compositions, and his last, “Requiem in D Minor,” will be performed Sunday in the Custer County District High School auditorium. 

The performance will feature the Miles City Community Orchestra with musicians from Montana and Wyoming, and the Miles City Community Chorale, with soprano, alto, tenor and bass solos. 

Directing the orchestra and choir will be Michael Gillan, director of the Custer County District High School Band Department.

The concert will begin at 2 p.m. and is open to the public. Admission is by freewill donation. A reception will follow the concert. For more information about the concert, contact Terry Annalora at (406) 853-8312.

According to Annalora, an adjunct instructor at Miles Community College and one of the vocal soloists, “Requiem” is a funeral mass composed by Mozart in Vienna for a friend of his in 1791. It was written in Latin and commissioned by an Austrian nobleman to mark the anniversary of his wife’s death. However, Mozart died on Dec. 5, 1791, before the work was finished. 

Numerous rumors and mysteries surround this composition, among them was who completed the piece’s final movements and what part of the 12 movements were by the original composer. The completion of “Requiem” in 1792 has been attributed to Franz Xaver Süssmayr.

Gillan said, “I’m looking forward to this. It’s been a challenge. Both groups went through a bout of illness where every was missing rehearsals, but most have recovered and we’ll do a good job with it.”

“This work is done more often as a concert piece because of its glorious music,” explained Annalora.

He added that when he was in Europe, he had the opportunity to visit St. Steven’s Cathedral in Vienna where the piece was first performed at Mozart’s funeral. Annalora said that the cathedral was built in the 1400s or 1500s and is a beautiful building. 

According to an email from Christina Ostendorf, a member of the orchestra, the last time “Requiem” was performed in Miles City was in 1993 by the combined choirs of the District Honor Choir Festival under the direction of Glenna James and accompanied by the Miles City Community Orchestra.

In addition to instructing at MCC, Annalora is a former long-time director of the Custer County District High School Choral Department. He is still an active member of Miles City’s music scene.

“I’ve learned a lot from Terry. He’s just so knowledgable. I just love the way he approaches singing,” said Gillan, adding that “It’s fun to have two sets of ears on something.” 

Annalora said he is looking forward to the concert, adding, “This should be a lot of fun.”

Gillan added that “Requiem” will be performed by a choral and orchestra group about the size of the groups that performed the piece the first time. 

“ I’m happy about that,” said Gillan. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

Weekly choir rehearsals, with Annalora as director, have been held Monday evenings since Jan. 9 and the orchestra, under the direction of Gillan, has been rehearsing on Tuesday evenings since early January. 

“The choir is really coming along well,” said Annalora.  “There is nothing like strings and voices performing together. We have a lot of talent in Miles City.”

Gillan added “This concert will showcase all the hard work put in by the choir, the orchestra and the directors. I’m looking forward to the performance.”