May 8, 2014

MSO presents unexpectedly hopeful Brahms

The Modesto Symphony Orchestra performs “A German Requiem” with soloists Carrie Hennessey and Joseph Wiggett.

Think requiem and think heavy, dark and serious. It is a Mass for the dead, after all.

But Modesto Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming performance of Brahms’ “A German Requiem” for chorus and orchestra should be a hopeful affair, said featured soprano Carrie Hennessey.

“There is something extremely hopeful in this requiem. Very different from Verdi Requiem, where you can hear fire and brimstone in that work,” said the soloist out of Sacramento. “There is something very hopeful in the work. Especially the fifth movement, which I sing. ‘No time for us to sing heavy-hearted. I’m going to give you comfort like your mother would give you comfort.’ That movement is quite comforting; the whole work is comforting.”

Hennessey, who is a featured soloist along with baritone Joseph Wiggett, has sung with the Modesto orchestra before. Her last appearance was in 2012, also a requiem, Mozart’s final work. After her previous experience working with music director and conductor David Lockington and choral director Daniel R. Afonso, she said she looks forward to returning.

“I have the best seat in the house. I get to sing some amazing lines and amazing music. And I get to go back and forth with the chorus,” she said.

Hennessey has sung the Brahms Requiem with the Oakland East Bay Symphony and Sacramento Choral Society. She also worked with Wiggett, a voice professor at California State University, Stanislaus, when he was stage director for Townsend Opera’s “The Merry Widow” in 2010. Hennessey was the lead.

“Everyone involved is so wonderful,” she said. “Oftentimes in pieces like (Brahms), the balance is tricky. But the Gallo Center is so perfectly situated for this group. Often challenges are venue-related, but this venue is great.”

The program also will include the Modesto orchestra premiere of Bruckner’s “Ecce Sacerdos Magnus.”

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