Victoria Bach Festival tackles Beethoven's greatest work

  • Monumental Beethoven

  • • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

    • WHERE: Victoria Fine Arts Center, 1002 Sam Houston Drive

    • COST: $30-$40

    • For information about tickets, visit the Victoria Bach Festival website or call 361-570-5788.

The 2013 Victoria Bach Festival will close out with a monumental bang.

The weeklong classical music showcase will culminate with Beethoven's masterpiece, "Missa Solemnis."

Conductor Craig Hella Johnson said the performance will push the limits of what's been done before at the festival.

"It's thrilling. It's bold. It's strong," he said. "It's an incredible piece of music."

"Missa Solemnis" is said to have been a labor of love for Beethoven and was written for his friend and pupil Archduke Rudolph of Austria.

Beethoven never had the chance to hear the symphony, as he was afflicted with deafness at the time of composing it.

Four soloists - Mary Wilson, Emily Lodine, Dann Coakwell and Kevin Deas - will join more than 250 musicians on stage Saturday at the Victoria Fine Arts Center.

"It's colossal," Johnson said about the 80-minute symphony.

Soprano Wilson, who will perform with Bach Festival for the first time Saturday, said preparing for the symphony has been very demanding.

"Every part is hard," she said.

Johnson said the piece was selected because of its difficulty and rareness, saying it requires endurance, strength and agility from the musicians.

"This is chamber music," he said. "Every line should be heard."

Johnson said the purpose of the piece is to invite people to feel a deep experience with music.

Mezzo-soprano Lodine, who has performed with the Bach Festival several times, said she cries every time she performs "Missa Solemnis." This is the first time she will perform it with Bach Festival.

"You're just so moved at what's around you," she said.

"Missa Solemnis" ends with the phrase "Grant us Peace," which Lodine said is relatable to anyone, anywhere.

"It's so human," she said. "Everyone can identify."

Monumental Beethoven is the last event of the 2013 season of Bach Festival.

Tickets for the concert are available online at victoriabachfestival.org.