Students in Valencia High School’s Concert Choir were able to share the stage with what is arguably the most prestigious choral group in the area on Sunday.
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale performed a piece written by its conductor, Allan Petker, titled, “Dona Nobis Pacem” — as part of its “Peace and Comfort” concert — before taking the stage with the Valencia choir to perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem in D minor (K. 626).”
“A requiem has taken on many forms in that it was originally a mass for the dead for those that have departed and asking for mercy and peace for them,” said Petker. “But it’s changed over time. Brahms put in completely new text, because he was Lutheran, and went a different way and that’s continued to the present day. But, this one keeps the Catholic tradition of what that is, and I think that it still has a message of peace and comfort.”
Before the performance, Petker gave some historical context on the piece. The requiem would end up being Mozart’s last — being finished by one of his students. It was originally commissioned to him by a count with the purpose of honoring the death of his wife, but he may also have been writing it for himself as he lay on his deathbed.
It’s unknown at which point in the Requiem he died, but music scholars and students still like to theorize which measure, or even note, was his last.
“This particular event is really special because it focuses on great works, things that a lot of times people won’t seek out on their own,” said Alex Nassief, a performer and chair of the Master Chorale’s board. “It’s really special for us to do as a group. I also think any event that we do is really special for the community, because it’s an opportunity for people who love music to come together and celebrate that as a community.”
Janet Hedke, also on the board and a performer in the chorale, said joining with local high schools to perform these types of pieces is a great opportunity for both parties.
“We’ve done this a few times over the years and we always find that it inspires the younger kids to see where their vocal path can take them, and they can be part of this because they’re on our level now,” said Hedke. “So it’s just exciting to see these kids and we’ll see them later on as they come to join the chorale as they get older.”
Event organizers made sure to laud Christine Tavares-Mocha, choral director at Valencia High, for her work in creating such a successful program.