Free concerts of Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ set

Father Charles D. Walker discussed Mozart’s “Requiem” in a video filmed at Good Shepherd Church, which will host the Louisville Civic Orchestra’s performance of Mozart’s piece on Feb. 24. It will be performed at St. Joseph Church in Butchertown Feb. 23. (Still from Louisville Civic Orchestra video)

By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor

Good Shepherd Church in Portland and St. Joseph Church in Butchertown will provide the backdrop for the Louisville Civic Orchestra’s performances of Mozart’s “Requiem” Feb. 23 and 24.

The orchestra — composed of amateur musicians, retired professional and others of all ages — will be accompanied by the Bellarmine Oratorio Society for the free concerts. 

Good Shepherd’s pastor, Father Charles D. Walker said the concerts will offer the public an opportunity to experience art in a sacred place.

“I think anything classical and artistic in a church moves us into a different kind of sacred space,” he said during an interview last week. “Whether it be music, art or poetry and literature, that all have a way to move our souls and moves ourselves to think and feel and believe on a different plane. That’s a great thing.”

In the orchestra’s video about the upcoming concert, Father Walker explains that requiem is Latin for rest and Requiem  Masses are Masses for the dead. Mozart’s “Requiem” was a setting for such a liturgy.

“The Funeral Mass has changed some since Mozart was writing, but it’s still the same ritual and Mass parts,” Father Walker said.

Jason Raff, artistic director and conductor of the Louisville Civic Orchestra, noted during an interview last week, “When Mozart would set a Mass or the Requiem, they were intended to be performed in cathedrals as part of a church service.

“So when I think of something like Mozart’s ‘Requiem,’ it belongs in a church — it’s where people would have heard it and it’s the space Mozart was writing for. When you’re in a church setting, it has certain acoustic qualities that a concert hall doesn’t replicate,” he said.

Raff noted that he’s not Catholic, but feels compelled  by settings of the Requiem Mass “because they speak to the universal feelings we have of death — fear, redemption, hope. I think these are all concepts and feelings we can relate to in a human way.”

Raff began conducting the The Louisville Civic Orchestra during it’s 100th year —in 2015. He and all of the orchestra’s members are volunteers. Among them are retired professionals, musicians who normally play for events, music educators and skilled amateurs, said Raff, noting that its most senior member died in December at age 95 after more than 40 years with the orchestra. Jane Reichler was the principal cellist until last fall.

The orchestra offers all of its performances for free to make its music accessible to all people, said Raff.

“We do solicit donations at our concerts, but there’s no pressure to donate,” he added. “Our last concert was a packed house, so we urge people to get tickets in advance.”

Performances of Mozart’s “Requiem” will be Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph Church, 1406 E. Washington St., and on Feb. 24 at 2:30 p.m. at Good Shepherd Church, 3511 Rudd Avenue. Admission is free, but attendees must obtain tickets at the door or in advance.

To reserve tickets in advance, visit www.louisville

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