Musica Sacra Performs Works by Boyce, Mozart, ByrdFebruary 17, 2015

Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra will perform music from two great 18th-century cities — London and Vienna — at its upcoming concert at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21 in St. Francis Xavier Church.

William Boyce (1710-1779) was a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and a student of composer and performer Maurice Greene. Boyce received the title of composer at the Chapel Royal in 1736 and was appointed organist that same year. His long relationship with the cathedral continued and when Greene died in 1755, Boyce was named Master of the King’s Music.

In addition to composing eight symphonies, Boyce also wrote a great deal of sacred music. His works demonstrate traits of both the baroque and classical eras. Musica Sacra will perform several of Boyce’s compositions, which include two anthems, “By the Waters of Babylon” and “Turn Thee Unto Me.”

Musica Sacra continues its examination of the voluminous body of rarely heard sacred music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The ensemble will perform Mozart’s “Missa Brevis in G Major,” K. 49, composed in 1768.

The young Mozart completed the “Missa Brevis” while residing in Vienna, although the circumstances behind its composition are unknown.  As is often the case with the prodigy, elements of the music are surprisingly mature and beautiful: the attractive string writing, for example, and the descending chromatic passage in the Credo to the text “passus et sepultus” (“He died and was buried”).

Musica Sacra will also include two a cappella works by English Renaissance composer William Byrd: the chromatic and expressive Latin motet “Ave verum corpus” (“Hail true body”), and the English anthem “I Have Longed for Thy Saving Health.”

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