Sinclair, John V.

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsRelease Notes
Soprano: Adriana Zabala
Mezzo-Soprano: Sharla Nafziger
Tenor: Daniel Weeks
Bass-Baritone: Michael Dean

Choir: Bach Festival Choir
Orchestra: Bach Festival Orchestra
Conductor: John V. Sinclair

Date: October 10, 2014
Venue: Winter Park, Florida, USA

Label: Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, Inc.
Cat No.: 888295235181
Released: 2015
Count Franz von Walsegg, an amateur chamber musician, was in the habit of commissioning “ghost composers” to write particular works that he would pass off as his own, and to honor his late wife he had the audacity to send envoys to Mozart requesting he compose a Requiem Mass. (Did he think people wouldn’t recognize the music of Mozart? What impudence!) But, Mozart needed the money and the idea for what we know as Requiem Mass in D minor, K. 626 was born.

Walsegg’s wife had died in February of 1791, and the commission showed up sometime in July with half payment, the rest payable on delivery of a completed score. At about the same time Mozart received a commission from the Prague
National Theatre to compose La Clemenza di Tito (K. 621), on which he proceeded to work until the day before the premiere on September 6, even while he was on the coach to Prague on August 25. During September Mozart finished a revision of The Magic Flute (K. 620), and, October 7 completed the Clarinet Concert K. 622. Finally he was able to start on the Requiem. On November 20 he took to his bed, from where he continued to work on the Requiem until his death December 5. And the Requiem was yet unfinished.

Between December 5 and a memorial service for Mozart by the actors of Schikaneder’s Theater auf der Wieden on December 10, the beginning of the score that had been orchestrated (probably through the Kyrie) was cobbled together for a performance. Mozart’s widow, Constanze, was frantic, claiming at one point that her husband had been poisoned. Desiring to finish Walsegg’s commission to gain the rest of the funds, she cast about Vienna for students and others who could complete the score, all the time asserting that her late husband had, indeed, finished the music before he died. Joseph Leopold Eybler (1765–1846) was given first crack but returned the score to Constanze during Lent 1792. The score next went to Franz Xaver Süssmayr (1766–1803), one of Mozart’s copyists, whose handwriting was remarkably like Mozart’s (confusing things for future researchers), who finished the score by early 1793. By that time, Mozart’s Requiem had been performed to benefit Constanze and the children, so it was quite out in the open. Count Walsegg finally received the Requiem in December 1793 and immediately mounted a performance in memory of his late wife. Almost a decade later, Walsegg received the first ten pages of the Requiem that Mozart had written himself. Thus started a series of tales, accusations, half-truths, fabrications, rumors, and falsehoods about the circumstances surrounding the composition of the Requiem, including a play, Mozart and Salieri, by Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837) in 1830, which later became an opera (1897) by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908). And the wild speculation continues. Several musicologists, unhappy with Süssmayr’s work, have done research and created their own versions, but most performances go with the traditional score. Enough was completed with enough scraps of drafts that Süssmayr’s task was a process of compilation, and given what we know of Mozart’s style and sound, the work is substantially Mozart’s.

Written for choir and four soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass), Mozart’s Requiem, features an unusual orchestral ensemble: no flutes or oboes, but two basset horns (clarinets) and two bassoons; no F horns, but two trumpets and three trombones; plus timpani, organ, and strings. The emphasis on the lower instruments, with the midrange pushing upward with great effort, reminds one of the young Mozart’s use of instruments in the Sinfonia Concertante. Trombones, used by the church since ancient times to represent the Devil, lent heft to the orchestra of Magic Flute and here provide a burnished gleam to the fires of Hell. The text has been set with care, not only for accent but also for appropriate vocal and instrumental color.

No dramatic technique seems ignored in Mozart’s goal of creating an opera from ancient chant of the Catholic Church. All those scraps of paper left in a pile on a desk on December 5, 1791, still contained the essence of Wolfgang Mozart, ready to be revived by another’s pen.

Susan Cohn Lackman, Ph.D.
Professor, Music Theory and Composition
Rollins College

John V. Sinclair, Artistic Director and Conductor
Dr. John V. Sinclair is celebrating his 25th season as Artistic Director and Conductor of the renowned Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. He serves as Chair of the Department of Music and is the John M. Tiedtke Professor of Music at Rollins College. He also conducts the Moravian Music Festivals and has conducted for The Berkshire Choral Festival.

Dr. Sinclair earned his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. During the past twenty years, he has made over one thousand appearances as conductor, clinician, or lecturer throughout the United States and in many foreign countries. Dr. Sinclair is also a conductor of the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT and has conducted recordings for Warner Brothers, Walt Disney Corporation, Moravian Music Foundation, and numerous Bach Festival events. A master teacher, Dr. Sinclair has received many awards while at Rollins College, including the Hugh F. McKean Teaching Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, Distinguished Service Award, and the Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship. For two consecutive years he was named “Outstanding Music Educator of the Year” by United Arts of Central Florida, and Florida International Magazine selected him as one of its “Power Players in the Arts.” In 2013, his Alma Mater, William Jewell College, honored him with a prestigious Citation for Achievement.

Sharla Nafziger, soprano
When critics describe Sharla Nafziger’s voice as “radiant and clear” (Edmonton Journal), “seraphic” (Calgary Herald), and “sparkling and vivid” (Boston Herald), it is no wonder that this Canadian soprano has established herself as a premier singer with impressive engagements to her credit. Ms. Nafziger is a frequent guest at the Winter Park Bach Festival and in high demand throughout the United States and Canada. Upcoming engagements include Brahms’ Requiem with the New Mexico Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Canterbury Choral Society at Carnegie Hall, Handel’s Messiah with the Messiah Choral Society in Orlando, and Bach’s Cantata BWV 140 at the Amor Artis Orchestra’s New Year’s Eve concert.

In past seasons she has appeared with the Buffalo Philharmonic, National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, El Paso Opera, and the symphonies of Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Nova Scotia, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor, and the Tafelmusik Chamber Orchestra, among others. She is also a regular on the opera stage, having appeared frequently with the New York City Opera, among other companies. Ms. Nafziger has numerous recordings and can be heard on the Naxos label in Lully’s Ballet Music for the Sun King with the Aradia Ensemble, on the Telarc label as Die Erste Elfe in Strauss’ Die Agyptische Helena with the American Symphony Orchestra, and on the ERM Media label in the premiere of Boaz Tarsi’s Concerto for Soprano and Orchestra with the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra. Ms. Nafziger earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Toronto and completed her master’s degree in voice performance at Manhattan School of Music.

Adriana Zabala, mezzo-soprano
Hailed by The New York Times as “a vivid, fearless presence,” mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala enjoys a vibrant career that includes opera, song repertoire, new works, concerts, oratorios, and cabaret. Ms. Zabala performs extensively throughout the United States and internationally and served for five years as Artistic Director of the Southeastern Festival of Song. Ms. Zabala is a proud member of the voice faculty at the University of Minnesota, where, in addition to her thriving studio, she teaches graduate vocal literature and administers a collaboration between the Minnesota Opera and the University of Minnesota. Recent engagements include the role of Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte with Opera Saratoga, Annina in Der Rosenkavalier with The Minnesota Orchestra, recitalist with the Salzburg International Chamber Music Concerts, soloist with The Jerusalem Symphony, and appearances in Messiah with both The Jacksonville Symphony and The Phoenix Symphony. Ms. Zabala has been seen on the stages of Seattle Opera, Minnesota Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, the Wildwood Festival, Syracuse Opera, and more. She has also been a soloist with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the New York Festival of Song, Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, and at the Caramoor International Music Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, among others.

Ms. Zabala received her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and earned her master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College—Conservatory of Music. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters.

Daniel Weeks, tenor
Tenor Daniel Weeks enjoys a varied career encompassing the opera stage, oratorios with orchestras, and recitals. Engagements during the 2014–2015 season include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Bozemanand Chattanooga Symphonies, Handel’s Messiah with the Orquesta Sinfónica Naciónal de Mexico, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the South Dakota Symphony, and a European tour singing Dvoˇrák’s Stabat Mater with the Chorus of Westerly (RI). Mr. Weeks’ recent concert appearances include Bruckner’s Te Deum with the Houston Symphony; Handel’s Messiah with the Indianapolis Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Memphis Symphony, and more; Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Columbus Symphony and Huntsville Symphony; and Verdi’s Requiem with the Orquesta Sinfónica Naciónal de Costa Rica. Mr. Weeks has also appeared previously as a soloist with the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park.

On the opera stage his recent performances include roles in Of Mice and Men with Kentucky Opera; Le Nozze di Figaro, Salome, and Dead Man Walking with Cincinnati Opera; Eugene Onegin and Dialogues of the Carmelites with Kentucky Opera; A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Florentine Opera; and Turandot with Austin Lyric Opera. Daniel Weeks has been a member of the voice faculty of the University of Louisville since 1998. Mr. Weeks was selected as a featured guest artist of the Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland, in an exchange program between the Academy and the University of Louisville. In 2006, Mr. Weeks and pianist Naomi Oliphant received a women’s studies grant from the University of Louisville to record their recital titled Women of Firsts, which showcased art songs of women composers.

Michael Dean, bassbaritone
Michael Dean has appeared with leading opera houses and orchestras of the United States and Europe. The New York Times lauded his “strong appealing bass-baritone,” while the San Jose Mercury News considered him “the standout, his voice a penetrating wake-up call.” Recent appearances include Handel’s Messiah with the Eugene Concert Choir and Pacific Symphony; and Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with our own Bach Festival Society of Winter Park.

Mr. Dean’s other engagements on the concert stage include the world premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Garden of Light and a concert performance of Street Scene with the New York Philharmonic, Mozart’s Requiem with the Louisiana Philharmonic, Modesto Symphony, and more; and Haydn’s Creation and Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem with the Louisiana Philharmonic, among others. Mr. Dean has made frequent appearances at New York City Opera, where he has performed the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni, George in Of Mice and Men, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and Jason McFarlane in the “Live From Lincoln Center” broadcast of Lizzie Borden. Other operatic appearances include performances with the Los Angeles Opera and international engagements in Linz, Austria; Antwerp, Belgium; and in Strasbourg and Berlin. Dean has also received critical praise for his recordings of baroque opera, including Agrippina, Ottone, Dido and Aeneas, Radamisto, Giustino, and Serse. Michael Dean is currently the Music Department Chair and Associate Professor of Voice at The University of California-Los Angeles and a member of the voice faculty at the Chautauqua Music Festival.