To commemorate 250 years of Presbyterian presence in Princeton, the combined chancel and adult choirs of Witherspoon Street and Nassau Presbyterian Churches will be joined by the choir of the Princeton Theological Seminary for a performance of the Mozart Requiem. The event takes place Sunday, March 26, at Richardson Auditorium.
Conductor James Litton (inset) brings a unique anniversary twist to the concert. Litton, interim director of music at Nassau Presbyterian Church and former music director of the American Boychoir, sang the Mozart Requiem with the Westminster Choir College Symphonic Choir and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as a student in four performances and a recording under the direction of legendary conductor Bruno Walter, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s birth 50 years ago, in March, 1956.
It is a well-known fact that Mozart made a major attempt to complete the Requiem during his final illness, and that soon after his much too young death at the age of 35, his widow made every effort to have the work completed by his students. This was accomplished so that she could receive the full commission fee in order to ward off poverty as much as possible. Dramas and movies have added a great deal of myth to this rather dramatic end of Mozart’s life. Over the years there have been many composers and scholars who have made effort to finish the Requiem, and in several situations, to correct “mistakes” made by those who sought to complete the work shortly after his death.
For the performance in Richardson Auditorium, Litton will be using the edition and completion of the Requiem by Robert D. Levin, which had its premiere in 1991 and has become the preferred performing version. Levin is a professor of music at Harvard University. Soloists for the performance are Beverly Owens and Patricia Holmes, sopranos; Carol Fagundus, alto; Stephen Williamson, tenor; and William Walker, baritone. The concert opens with the short and well-loved Mozart “Ave verum corpus” for choir and string orchestra.
Mozart Requiem, Sunday, March 26, 4 p.m., Richardson Auditorium, on the Princeton University campus. $20. Visit www.princeton.edu/utickets or call 609-258-5000.