Mozart Requiem: 100 Voices – A Rich Inheritance in Music

Paul Dyer

Alleluia, life certainly goes well when it is filled with glorious music.

One of the most ‘intoxicating performances of the year’ will take place in Sydney and Melbourne 29th April to 11th May, 2016″ said Artistic Director of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) Paul Dyer recently.

He also noted “… children’s voices were part of the musical landscape of both the Renaissance and Baroque periods in Europe and it is time to bring that glorious sound back to the Brandenburg stage and we are going to do it in a huge way.” Dyer said.

The ABO‘s splendid program, Mozart Requiem: 100 Voices will commence with the joyous sounds of a splendid contemporary Festive Alleluia by Australian composer Lyn Williams OAM, with voices raised with joy and energy giving thanks.

Brandenburg CelebrationThe ABO will be celebrating how content and form balanced each other in music c1600 – c1825, as together with the Brandenburg Choir and Brandenburg Young Voices, they present the Requiem Mass in D minor K.626 by Austrian born composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) as the grand finale.

During Mozart’s age a close affinity of the ‘beautiful’ and the good’, which had been founded in the ideas and arts of ancient Greece, was being re-established through styles of music and architecture.

The beauty of the music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made was not only to be fully attained in instrumental music, but also through the sounds of the human voice.

He was entirely enchanted by the sorcery of singing and song.

When composers of music in Europe were able to convert drama and religion into sounds of unparalleled intensity Mozart straddled both worlds and the legacy of his works is wide ranging in its influences.


Christian Greece absorbed the cultural wealth of Pagan Greece including its music.

This was based on its poetry; the words which have contributed to it resonating down the ages.

Music’s sensuous qualities were achieved when the ancients were busy striving for clarity, temperance and moderation.

They became aware of the dangers if they went too far along the path to the ‘fantastic and orgiastic’ with balance becoming the key.

The ABO will also trace aspects of the journey music made on its way to the master, Mozart.

In Medieval times the Alleluia had been an exclamation in general use.

Eighth century historian and doctor of the church, the Venerable Bede 672/3 – 735, earned the title ‘Father of English History’.

He related the story of a battle known as the ‘Alleluia Victory’ when mariners reputedly shouted Allelulia from ship to ship expressing thanks, praising God, heralding relief, as a welcome or in gratitude.

Musical ManThe role of music in ancient times was so integral to the intellectual and artistic life of society, a distinguished man was called a ‘musical man’.

A Gaudete was a traditional liturgical chant sung in unison in a special composition all about ‘rejoicing’.

The ABO‘s example comes from a collection of sacred songs Piae Cantiones published in 1582, thought to be either Finnish or Swedish in origin.

By an unknown composer and originally plainsong, it had polyphonic Alto, Tenor, and Bass parts added during the fifteenth century, due to its Medieval Latin lyrics.

The time of grace has come
what we have wished for,
songs of joy
Let us give back faithfully

Salva nos, stella maris is a medieval prayer to the Virgin Mary, Salva nos, stella maris, Et regina celorum - Save us, star of the sea, and queen of heaven, by an unknown composer.

Composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) embraced many different styles and the greater part of his works have an unerring sense of tonal architecture, most notable for their spiritual qualities and technical master.

His Alma Redemptoris Mater di Lasso Matona Mia Cara is a fine example.

John Milford Rutter CBE (born September 24, 1945 is a contemporary English composer, choral conductor, editor, arranger and record producer who has produced many sacred choral pieces.

Rutter’s beautiful What Sweeter Music and For the Beauty of the Earth are part of that tradition in music dating back centuries.

His works are both glorious to sing and to be uplifted by as they are based on, and inspired by the spirituality of sacred verses and prayers

Next on the program is Georg Friderich Handel’s simply splendid Hallelujah Chorus traditionally sung at Easter.


It comes from his master work The Messiah, which made such an impression on the new King of England, George 1 (b. 1660 – R.1714 – 1727) who had been Handel’s former employer in Hanover, that he rose to his feet, beginning another tradition that endured for some three hundred years.

The various elements of the liturgy for Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor, K. 626, including the “Introit.” The “Kyrie,” “Sequence,” and “Offertorium” had been sketched out prior to his death in 1791, while the last three movements, the “Benedictus,” “Agnus Dei,” and “Communio” remained unwritten, with nearly all the orchestration incomplete.

As it stands the work has been most often heard as completed by Mozart’s student Franz Xaver Süssmayr, whose handwriting in the manuscript of Mozart’s Requiem makes it clear that he completed a number of passages after Mozart’s death, although if he followed detailed sketches and drafts by Mozart remains a point of dispute.

This is the version we will hear the ABO perform.


As a child Mozart took society in Europe by storm with his virtuosity, in concert with his sister Nannerl and guided by their father Leopold who was prodigiously proud of his two children and their talents.

An all-new artistic tradition in music born at this time excited free imagination. It achieved a complete medium of expression as well as the highest pinnacle of achievement in a climate seldom granted to any other generation, particularly in the singing of the Mass,

Tapestry 7The very earnestness of the movement and preference toward ‘classicism’ brought about a ‘moral uplift’ and the population at large consumed this new musical life passionately, elevating its artists so they achieved both unity of form and material.

Mozart’s travels around Europe with his father and sister meant he was able to unite the musical treasures of all nations, which could have been a disaster, but instead was a triumph.

Franz Joseph Haydn one of the leading, and most revered composers of the period delivered a testimony to Mozart’s abilities to his father Leopold at a quartet party in 1785.

I tell you before God, as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me in person and by name. He has taste, but above this, he has the greatest knowledge of composition.

Mozart was 29 years of age and he will forever live through his music, both sacred and secular, as its popularity has only increased in the centuries since his death.

2015 Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Brandenburg Choir, Paul Dyer, with guest soloists soprano Mariana Flores and tenor Fernando Guimaraes photo by Steven Godbee

2015 Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Brandenburg Choir, Paul Dyer, with guest soloists soprano Mariana Flores and tenor Fernando Guimaraes photo by Steven Godbee

Nowadays we have the best of all worlds in Music, especially as played by the ABO simple, restrained and refined in style.

When performed in concert with the Brandenburg Choir and Brandenburg Young voices, we all want to shout Allelulia!

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016

choirMozart Requiem: 100 Voices
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Artistic Director and Conductor
Paul Dyer AO

Brandenburg Choir
Brandenburg Young Voices

Guest Conductor 
Anne Sandström

Williams Festive Alleluia
Anon Gaudete from Piae Cantiones 1582
Anon Salva nos, stella maris
Palestrina Alma Redemptoris Mater di Lasso Matona Mia Cara
Rutter What Sweeter Music
Rutter For the Beauty of the Earth
Handel Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah
Mozart Requiem Mass in D minor, K. 626

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