French Romantic-period composer Hector Berlioz composed his setting of the Latin Te Deum text for a specific church (and its organ at the time) in France: the Église St. Eustache. Berlioz specified very large performing forces, in numbers that have never been assembled on the stage of the Mondavi Center's Jackson Hall (nearly 400 voices and 80 orchestral musicians). The performance will be the culmination of a collaboration of the University Chorus and Alumni Chorus of UC Davis, the University of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, the Sacramento Children's Chorus, the Pacific Boychoir, the Davis Children's Chorale, and several guests, including tenor soloist Wesley Rogers and organist David Deffner. UC Davis professor of music Jeffrey Thomas will conduct. Following the instructions of the composer, the organ will be placed at the back of the hall, creating antiphonal effects that will surround the listener in a way that emphasizes the architectural dialogue of the choirs, organ, and orchestra.
The program's first half features the University of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, conducted by its director, Nicolas Waldvogel. Opening with Berlioz's famous "Roman Carnival Overture" the orchestra will then perform Albert Roussel's demanding second suite of "Bacchus and Ariadne." The suite was extracted by Roussel from his music for the original ballet, and premiered under French conductor Pierre Monteux in 1934. The second suite has become the more popular of the two, perhaps because of the climax in the bacchanal—imitative of the Greek god Dionysus—at its end.
The Te Deum text is a traditional Latin prayer, and as set to music is a hymn of praise. Many composers have set the text, including Haydn, Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Bruckner, and Dvorák. Berlioz's setting is unique on many points. It has both a ceremonial sense (the work's grand nature honors Napoleon and the nation of France) and a query for a deeper meaning. The work's religious nature belies Berlioz's own admission that he had "long since fallen out" of the religious tradition in which he was raised. The result of Berlioz's reflections is an intensely introspective and yet triumphant work—as if expressing that the church (or concert hall) is a place where the common feelings of all people can be expressed. This idea is emphasized by the presence of the children's chorus, which was added to the existing double chorus when Berlioz heard a chorus of thousands of children (mostly orphans) singing at St. Paul, London, in 1851.
UC Davis Distinguished Professor D. Kern Holoman will give a brief talk "Berlioz's Napoleon: Thoughts on the Te Deum," which is free and open to the public, on the Saturday evening prior to the performance in the Mondavi Center's Vanderhoef
March 6, 2011 - 7:00pm - 11:00pm
Mondavi Center (Jackson Hall)
$17/15/12 for adults, and all students and children are $8