This Weekend: Modern Mozart Requiem Presented by Westminster Choir

Friday, November 10, 2023

Pictured Above: Eric McKeever, baritone. Photo Credit: Ray LaVoie. 



Princeton, NJ – Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov leads the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) in performances of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem in a 21st-century completion by Gregory Spears the weekend of November 11-12. Performing Mozart’s masterpiece with the PSO are the Westminster Symphonic Choir and four soloists: Abigail Rethwisch, soprano, Chelsea Laggan, mezzo-soprano, Carlos Enrique Santelli, tenor, and Eric McKeever, baritone. Leading off the program is Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte, a modern-day take on minuet and trio classical form, which was premiered at Princeton University in 2011 by the Brentano String Quartet. The concerts take place on Saturday, November 11 at 8pm and Sunday, November 12 at 4pm at Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University. The Sunday performance will be preceded by a 3pm pre-concert talk featuring Maestro Milanov and composer Gregory Spears.

Composers have long looked to earlier works for inspiration. Mozart himself borrowed from Handel’s Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline at the start of his Requiem. According to Milanov, today’s composers also draw upon the past. He says, “Caroline’s piece was sparked by the Brentano String Quartet’s performance of a minuet by Haydn, and Gregory Spears is among the latest to complete Mozart’s stirring work, drawing upon traditional liturgical music and passages from an earlier completion of the Requiem by (Franz) Süssmayr. Yet Gregory deftly balances these influences with his own compositional style, making his mark with a fresh Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei for today’s audiences.”

Pictured Above: Westminster Symphonic Choir. Photo Credit: Westminster College of the Arts, RiderU. 

Recognized as one of the world’s leading symphonic choral ensembles, the Westminster Symphonic Choir, conducted by James Jordan and Associate Conductor Tyler Weakland, has recorded and performed with major orchestras under virtually every internationally acclaimed conductor of the past 90 years. Recent seasons have included a performance of Holst’s The Planets with The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Cristian Măcelaru; the premiere of Machover’s Philadelphia Voices with The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin; Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado; Handel’s Messiah with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Andrew Manze; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rossen Milanov. 

Gregory Spears is a New York-based composer whose music has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (The New York Times). He has been commissioned by The New York Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and The Crossing, among many others. Spears’ 21-movement solo piano cycle Seven Days was released in the form of a custom designed app produced by the 92Y in fall 2021. Recent commissions include a new vocal work, The Bitter Good, commissioned by New York Polyphony, as well as The Tower and the Garden for a consortium of choirs including The Crossing. Spears also recently completed a Double Trumpet Concerto for Concert Artists Guild and the soundtrack for the British feature film Macbeth featuring 18th-century instruments. His Requiem was released by New Amsterdam records in 2011. He has been an artist-in-residence at the Aaron Copland House, and was a participant and later a composer mentor for The American Opera Project’s Composers and the Voice program. He holds degrees in composition from Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale School of Music (MM), and Princeton (PhD). He also studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen with Hans Abrahamsen. He currently teaches composition and orchestration at Purchase College Conservatory (SUNY).

Performances take place on Saturday, November 11 at 8pm and Sunday, November 12 at 4pm at Richardson Auditorium. Youths 5-17 receive a 50% discount with an adult purchase. To purchase single tickets to any orchestral performance or Holiday POPS! (Saturday, December 16, 3pm & 6pm), visit the Princeton Symphony Orchestra website at or call 609-497-0020.

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