Landmark occasion as Queensland Symphony Orchestra plays St Stephen’s Cathedral

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra will mark the 150th-anniversary of St Stephen’s Cathedral with three soaring performances of Mozart’s Mass live inside the heritage-listed landmark.

Apr 24, 2024, updated Apr 24, 2024

Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) is delighted to celebrate the sesquicentennial of St Stephen’s Cathedral with three special live performances of Mozart’s Mass within the exulted surrounds of Brisbane City’s heritage-listed major landmark in May.

The 150th-anniversary events will feature Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, opening with French composer Lili Boulanger’s triumphant and joyous prayer Psalm 24.

Accompanied by 65 world-class QSO musicians, the vocal lineup will highlight four sublime soloists: renowned sopranos Sara Macliver and Sofia Troncoso, tenor Andrew Goodwin and baritone David Greco, and the uplifting voices of the combined 50-strong choral ensembles of Brisbane Chamber Choir and St Stephen’s Cathedral Schola.

Considered one of Mozart’s greatest works, the Great Mass in C Minor is a layered, shimmering masterpiece of the composer’s formidable talents at the height of his prowess. The stirring synergy of classical music and soulful vocals will bring this expansive work to life amid St Stephen’s vaulted nave and majestic cathedral space, complemented by its unique acoustics and lighting and contemporary gothic beauty.

QSO Chief Conductor Umberto Clerici chose Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Lili Boulanger’s Psalm 24 specifically to commemorate the momentous occasion.

“These works tell the entire story of humanity, pay homage to the enduring sanctity of the spiritual setting and celebrate equality with the inclusion of a female composer,” Clerici said.

“A mass is the correct way to celebrate St Stephen’s role as a spiritual catalyst in the community. Mass in C Minor is a challenging piece but embraces the joy of an event like this.”

Clerici describes Mozart’s Mass as a masterpiece of humanity and geniality that connects with people individually through its evocative musical and lyrical portrayal of human existence. Meanwhile, he notes Boulanger’s Psalm 24 is a more luxurious piece and, with the full church organ, will produce a lush wave of sound felt as a full-body, wall-to-wall experience. Clerici said audiences can expect a profound impact of aural, physical and spiritual reverberations in a holistic setting specifically designed for multi-layered religious works.

“The beauty and emotion evoked by Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor highlights the composer’s ability to convey the human spirit and spirituality through music,” Clerici said.

“I believe audiences will feel slightly changed by the experience and feel part of something bigger that is connected to the greatness of the music – and that is a special feeling.”

Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge said QSO’s Mozart’s Mass event honours 150 years of an extraordinary human story and the deep partnership between religion, faith and music.

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“Music is an essential part of the language of celebration. To celebrate with the calibre of the QSO is a wonderful gift to St Stephen’s Cathedral and the city,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“Mozart always combines a sense of gravity and grace with a lightness of touch. There is a seriousness of intent and a joyful remembrance, which is the combination we would like to achieve for the celebration.

“For 150 years, St Stephen’s Cathedral has been embedded in different worlds as a symbolically important oasis in the heart of the CBD and a humble and real service to the city. We’re not just talking about a building or an institution – this is something deeper and richer and in the end what we’re celebrating is so human at its heart, it becomes divine.”

The QSO x St Stephen’s Cathedral performances will feature a blend of traditional setting and modern technology with the use of spectacular lighting design to enhance the experience.

This is reflected in the QSO mission to connect with the community beyond its audience through arts and music and the first, Clerici hopes, of more such performances to come. “We want to expand our influence, breaking boundaries and creating a gateway for the orchestra to be embraced in the fabric of society,” he said.

Friday May 10 7.30pm
Saturday 11 May 1.30pm & 7.30pm
The Cathedral of St Stephen, Brisbane

Take a peep behind the sounds with QSO’s Chief Conductor Umberto Clerici in conversation with cathedral organist Dominic Perissinotto.

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