ECSO performs Mozart concert Sunday at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick

Toshiyuki Shimada, music director and conductor of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, leads members of the orchestra as they perform with the Norwich Diocesan Choir in the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, Sunday, March 29, 2015. (Tim Martin/The Day)
Toshiyuki Shimada, music director and conductor of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, leads members of the orchestra as they perform with the Norwich Diocesan Choir in the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, Sunday, March 29, 2015. (Tim Martin/The Day)

Norwich — A hush filled the Cathedral of Saint Patrick on Sunday evening as hundreds filled the pews and waited quietly in anticipation.

Beneath the vaulted blue ceiling and soft lights of the cathedral, a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Requiem" was about to begin.

The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, along with the Norwich Diocesan Choir and the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus, was holding the Palm Sunday performance of Requiem in D minor, K. 626, after a year of planning and collaboration.

"I'm a firm believer that whenever we touch something of beauty, we touch something of God," said Bishop Michael Cote at the beginning of the concert. "Thank you for this beauty tonight."

At once powerful and beautiful, the voices and music filled the cathedral, led by conductor Toshiyuki Shimada, the music director of New London's Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. Douglas Green, the cathedral's music director, prepared the Norwich Diocesan Choir, and Mark Singleton prepared the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus.

Requiem was begun by Mozart, who died in 1791, and was later completed by a disciple of Mozart, said Shimada.

Audience members sat quietly, smiled or closed their eyes, while others followed along to the Latin words, also translated in English in the concert's program:

"...Sanctus. Sanctus. Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth! Pleni suni coeli et terra gloria tua. Osanna in excelsis... (Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest)...."

The idea for the concert first began through the friendship of Cote and Toshiyuki Shimada, the conductor of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestera.  The two got to know each other while Cote was a bishop in Portland, Maine, and Shimada was also a conductor there, said Green. Proceeds from the free concert will benefit St. Vincent De Paul's soup kitchen.

"This is such an honor to be able to even speak in such a beautiful cathedral," said Shimada at the beginning of the concert.

The interior of the cathedral had been part of a restoration project that included new marble flooring, frescoes on the ceiling and restored stain glass, said Bob Reed, vice president of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, Inc.

Sunday's concert was the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra's entree into Norwich, said Reed. Based at The Garde Arts Center in New London, the orchestra would like to travel all over, he said.

An elated crowd applauded and gave a standing ovation at the end of the concert.

Elizabeth Santaus, an Orange resident who attended Sunday's performance, said the performance was phenomenal and liked that the free concert made it accessible to all and filled the cathedral with attendees.

"The accoustics were spectacular. It was a wonderful venue," she said after the concert. "It's a wonderful collaboration with the Norwich Diocesan Choir: the sheer volume of voices was incredible."

"It was just awesome," said Reed after the show, as attendees stopped to make donations and compliment the performance. "It was just good to get the symphony here in Norwich and play such a piece on Palm Sunday."

"Everything came together perfectly — it was a year in the making," he said.

k.drelich@theday.com

Twitter: @KimberlyDrelich

 

Toshiyuki Shimada, music director and conductor of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, leads members of the orchestra as they perform with the Norwich Diocesan Choir in the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, Sunday, March 29, 2015. (Tim Martin/The Day)
Toshiyuki Shimada, music director and conductor of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, leads members of the orchestra as they perform with the Norwich Diocesan Choir in the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, Sunday, March 29, 2015. (Tim Martin/The Day)

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