IN TUNE: March Northwest Indiana Symphony concert: lovely Brahms symphony; modern, jazzy 'Mass for the Children'

IN TUNE: March Northwest Indiana Symphony concert: lovely Brahms symphony; modern, jazzy 'Mass for the Children'


Hello, music friends — The Chicago Symphony Orchestra just completed a three-week tour of Asia giving concerts in Taiwan, China and Japan. Maestro Ricardo Muti selected four major pieces for the orchestra to play in those performances. We are going to offer one of those four pieces on our next concert: the famous Brahms "2nd Symphony!"

It speaks volumes that Maestro Muti would chose this powerful, exciting and beautiful piece of repertoire to showcase his orchestra. It displays in full view the virtuosity, power and artistry of his musicians.

If you ask almost any of the musicians in OUR SYMPHONY, "what symphony would you most like to perform?" I would wager that they most often reply, “a Brahms symphony." This "2nd Symphony" tests their musicianship to the max.

The players have been asking me, year after year, to program this piece and finally we have a new venue where it will work perfectly. Performing now at Living Hope Auditorium gives us the right acoustic to offer you this grand and astonishing piece. (Playing this at the Star Plaza would simply not have worked. I can explain this to you in more detail if you ask me about it at either the preconcert discussion at 6:15 or after the concert as we all greet one another.)

Also on the program is the John Rutter "Mass for the Children," which we will be performing with our Symphony Chorus, the Southlake  Children’s Choir and the Eisenhower Elementary Choir.

The Mass is typical in some regards — it has the usual movements, and much of it is in Latin.

However, other parts of it are in English using lovely texts of English poets. William Blake, for example, is used in the Agnus Dei:

"Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, woolly bright,

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice."

The piece was written in 2003 to be premiered at a huge festival at Carnegie Hall and since then has "taken off" in concert halls around the world. My own opinion is that much of the writing is almost ... "Pop."

I am sure I am going to get into trouble with folks who are super-super-serious regarding classical concerts, but some of the movements have sections that sound like Elton John to me! (By the way, these two famous musicians are "mates" in London, born just two years apart, and I think that Elton somehow influenced Rutter in some parts of this cool, modern, joyous Mass.)

There are also jazzy parts in 5/8 time that almost sound like Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Sondheim to me.

However, it is certainly a reverent, sacred and lovely piece of music, and it is particularly special in that we can invite two groups of young musicians to join us on the stage and share a symphony experience with them on their journey to learn about and enjoy music.

I hope you will be able to join us for this magnificent concert! I also hope that you will attend the preconcert talk, ask lots of questions, and then have even more thoughts for me after the concert as we all greet one another.

The Northwest Indiana Symphony presents Two Symphonies and a Modern Massat 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the Auditorium at Living Hope Church, 9000 Taft St., Merrillville. Tickets are $33-$73 and students are $10. Subscription tickets are also still available. Call 219-836-0525 or visit for tickets or more information.

Opinions are solely those of the writer’s. Kirk Muspratt is the conductor of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. Muspratt’s column is an occasional feature during symphony season.


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