Haydn's "Mass in a Time of War" at Peoples Church This Sunday

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Thursday, April 21, 2016, 3:00 am
Ann Nichols

Members of The Peoples Church Choir

This Sunday, April 24th, The Peoples Church Sanctuary Choir will perform Joseph Haydn's “Mass in a Time of War” during the Church’s 10:30 a.m. worship service. 

For decades, the Choir has attracted high-caliber vocal and conducting talent from both sides of Grand River Avenue. Under the leadership of Music Director Jonathan Reed, the group takes part in worship services from September through May, and presents two "Music Sunday” worship services each year, featuring full-length choral works.

According to Reed, Haydn himself titled the work "Mass in a Time of War" or “Missa in Tempore Belli.” The work was composed in 1796 in Haydn’s native Austria as that country mobilized to fight in the European conflicts that followed the French Revolution. The work is also known as the “Paukenmessee” or “Timpani-mass” due to the dramatic use of the timpani in several places.

Like most choral masses, the Haydn is a multi-movement work based on the parts of the traditional mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei. Reed explains that “this particular mass might be referred to a ‘Cantata Mass’ since the Gloria and Credo, are broken down into smaller individual movements.”

The Peoples Church Sanctuary

Reed chose the Mass in a Time of War for Music Sunday because “its value as a master work is unquestioned. It is doable for a good church choir” and it “hasn’t been done at Peoples since the '90’s.” Sunday’s soloists will include “a number of student interns, all of whom are voice students at MSU. Leah and Sarah Brzyski, sopranos; Jonathan Van Kuren, Tenor; Nick Kreider, Bass/Baritone and Cheri Johnson, now a retired professor from the MSU Vet School, will sing the mezzo soli.”

In addition to the vocal soloists, the Mass will feature “a small classical chamber orchestra, including a full complement of strings, oboes, bassoons, and timpani.” The Choir started rehearsing the Mass in January, and began to gather instrumentalists several weeks ago. “We will hold a dress rehearsal on Thursday night next week,” says Reed. “We will also have a chance to run the work again before church on Music Sunday."

Reed has a Bachelor of Music degree from The Hartt School of Music, Theater, and Dance, a Master in Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Irvine and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University. In addition to directing the Sanctuary Choir at The Peoples Church, he is Professor of Music and Associate Director of Choral Activities at MSU's School of Music where he conducts the State Singers and the Men’s Glee Club and where he teaches courses in conducting at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Asked what he does when he isn’t making music, Reed replied, “I have four children, of whom I am enormously proud, and I am an avid sailor.”


Photos by Sarah Moore Light, courtesy of The Peoples Church.

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