WNYCO to present Rossini’s ‘Stabat Mater’ for May 5 Masterworks concert

Doug Osborne-Coy
Vocal soloists James Harrington, Robert Kleinertz, Meredith Zimmer and Mia Mandineau.

Vocal soloists for with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra’s Masterworks presentation of Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” are (clockwise, from upper left) James Harrington, Robert Kleinertz, Meredith Zimmer and Mia Mandineau.

More than 90 voices will join with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra in May for the annual Masterworks concert at SUNY Fredonia.

The Fredonia School of Music choral ensembles and select vocal soloists will perform Gioachino Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” with WNYCO on Sunday, May 5 at 3 p.m. in King Concert Hall at Rockefeller Arts Center on the Fredonia campus.

Tickets are available online 24/7, by phone (716) 673-3501 or in person at the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center on Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Student tickets are free in advance and $5 at the door the day of the performance. General public tickets are $20.

The four soloists are James Harrington (bass), Robert Kleinertz (tenor), Mia Mandineau (soprano) and Meredith Zimmer (mezzo-soprano). The Masterworks Chorus for the WNYCO production will be under the direction of Dr. Vernon Huff, director of choral activities at SUNY Fredonia.

WNYCO Executive Director Lisa Layman noted that all four soloists have Fredonia connections. Harrington is a current School of Music assistant professor, Kleinertz and Zimmer are alumni, and Mandineau is a current graduate student.

“There will be approximately 90 students singing in the Masterworks chorus, and 20 members of the orchestra playing a reduced version,” Layman said.

“We hope that our audience is transported, even just for the afternoon, by a piece that doesn’t have the fame of other traditional choral masterpieces, yet still bears homage to sacredness and excellence through classical music.” - WNYCO Executive Director Lisa Layman

Rossini, an Italian composer best known for his comic operas including “The Barber of Seville,” “Cenerentola,” and “William Tell,” composed his version of “Stabat Mater” over the course of a decade in the mid-19th century. Its premiere performance took place in Paris in 1842. Over the following two centuries, it has been the subject of countless performances and more than a dozen recordings.

“Rossini was primarily known for his highly integrated operatic compositions, and had recently retired, but on a trip to Spain, he was asked by the archdeacon of Madrid to compose the ‘Stabat Mater,’ the famous hymn and poem to the grieving Virgin Mary at the crucifixion of Christ,” Ms. Layman said. “There are many who’ve written that even Rossini found it surprising, as the piece has more of a dramatic quality rather than reverent. There are coveted solos and quartet work throughout, but especially the ‘Cujus Animam’ for tenor with a high D flat!”

The Masterworks concert is considered one of the annual highlights of the performing arts season at Fredonia.

“We hope that our audience is transported, even just for the afternoon, by a piece that doesn’t have the fame of other traditional choral masterpieces, yet still bears homage to sacredness and excellence through classical music,” Layman said.

The Western New York Chamber Orchestra is an ensemble-in-residence at the Fredonia School of Music. Composed of School of Music faculty and professional musicians from throughout Western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, it is led by Conductor/Artistic Director Glen Cortese.

The May 5 Masterworks event is presented as part of the 2023-24 Lake Shore Savings Season at Fredonia’s Rockefeller Arts Center. It is sponsored by WNYCO, the Musicians’ Performance Trust Fund, the New York State Council for the Arts, the Cooper Foundation and the School of Music Choral Ensembles of SUNY Fredonia.

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