The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is pleased to welcome back popular guest conductor Juanjo Mena for its performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis on Thursday (7:30pm) and Saturday (8pm), Oct. 27 & 29 at the historic Taft Theatre. Written for Beethoven’s dear friend, the Missa Solemnis is one of the composer’s most personal works, on which he inscribed: “From the heart—may it go to the heart.”
These performances will feature Cincinnati’s own May Festival Chorus, as well as a cast of world-renowned soloists. Soprano Joélle Harvey, who regularly performs with the world’s top orchestras and opera companies, makes her CSO debut. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, who recently impressed Cincinnati audiences with a spectacular performance of Handel’s Messiah last season, returns, replacing previously scheduled mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack, who had to withdraw from these performances due to an unforeseen conflict. Tenor Barry Banks, who debuted with the May Festival earlier this year, amazes audiences in operatic roles across the U.S. and Europe. Finally, bass-baritone David Pittsinger made his May Festival debut in 2007, has excelled in opera and musical theatre throughout his impressive career.
Missa Solemnis is considered one of the most virtuosic and challenging works in the choral repertoire, for chorus, soloists and orchestra alike, and thus is rarely performed. While the text follows the traditional mass format, it shows a humanistic side of Beethoven, who uses the work in a deeply personal way to express love and affection for one of his only true friends on the occasion of his installation as cardinal.
Juanjo Mena has been a regular guest conductor of the CSO since his debut in 2012. His most recent performance with the CSO and May Festival Chorus came in April, and was hailed as a “performance of mesmerizing power.” The Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic got his start in music at the age of 7 when a teacher invited him to sing in the school choir, and he thus has a special propensity for choral music. “I remember very well the first time I worked with the CSO – it was special, as the orchestra made me feel very comfortable,” said Mr. Mena. “The May Festival Chorus amazed me from the first minute…not just because of their incredible vocal performance but because of their musicality, and their capacity to quickly react to whatever I asked of them…” For the full Q&A with Mr. Mena, visit cincinnatisymphony.org/mena.
Tickets for these concerts start at just $12 and are available by calling the CSO Box Office at (513) 381-3300 or visiting www.cincinnatisymphony.org. On Thursday, a light buffet dinner is available to add as well.
The CSO is grateful to Masterworks Series Sponsor U.S. Bank.