ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the feature film “Amadeus,” a messenger delivers a note to Mozart to write a requiem.
The composer, at least in the film, soon feels as if the work was intended for his own funeral.
In truth, a count anonymously commissioned Mozart to compose a requiem to be performed on the anniversary of his wife’s death.
Mozart died before he completed it. He was only 35.
“There is a lot of mythology around it. It was unfinished. He was in the middle of writing it when he died,” said Matthew Greer, who will conduct the Mozart Requiem on Saturday, March 22 at St. John’s United Methodist Church.
“It was completed by a student, (Franz Xaver) Sussmayr.”
Greer will lead 35 members of the New Mexico Philharmonic, 65 voices of the church’s Chancel Choir in four vocal parts and four soloists in the performance of the requiem.
“It’s beloved by choral singers because it’s a very emotional piece to sing and by orchestra players because it’s a very emotional piece to play,” said Greer, who is director of Music and Worship Ministries at the church.
Seth Hartwell, the tenor soloist in the concert, thinks his part is part of a “team effort” among the four soloists.
“The choir is the big, main texture and Mozart uses soloists as a group to balance that texture” to achieve something lighter, Hartwell said.
Hartwell, the director of music programs at St. Paul Lutheran Church, recently sang the double-cast role of Tamino in the University of New Mexico Opera Theatre’s production of “The Magic Flute.”
Santa Fe’s Sarah Ihlefeld, who is the mezzo-soprano soloist, said the requiem is a special piece in her repertoire.
“It was one of the first pieces of music that stayed with me. It tugged at my heart,” Ihlefeld said.
The other two soloists in the requiem are soprano Ashley Morgan and bass-baritone Bradley Ellingboe.
Also on the program are Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and the Adagio in G minor by Tomaso Albinoni and Rezo Giazotto.