Robert Kyr joined us here in this virtual space last week to share insights on his compositions. I was beyond happy to share the performances of his works with so many of you in Austin and Victoria.
Robert will remain here with us for the Missa Solemnis, singing in the bass section. I hope you will enjoy his personal reflection, below, on the work and that it will inspire you to come out and listen (and perhaps encourage you to share your thoughts and reflections on this piece now and in the coming days via the comments section).
Beethoven’s Plea for Peace
As a bass in the chorus (and a composer), I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to explore Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis from the inside out. Having listened to the work many times over the past 45 years, it is a dream come true to finally sing it, especially with Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare.
Now more than ever, I’m amazed by every dimension of Beethoven’s magnum opus. Is there any other music that exceeds the ecstatic grandeur of the Gloria? That rivals the vastness and majesty of the Credo? That matches the operatic ferocity of the Agnus Dei, which is so original that it defies categorization, as an extraordinary hybrid of mass, symphony, cantata, oratorio, and opera!
In particular, I think that the Agnus Dei rings especially true for me today. After unleashing trumpet calls and drum volleys (a symbol of impending violence), Beethoven rearranges the mass text to enable the soloists, and then the chorus, to make an urgent plea for peace: “Lamb of God, have mercy on us… Lamb of God, grant us peace…”
This is Beethoven’s unforgettable anti-war manifesto. He uses a reinvented mass text, and above all, the undeniable power of music, to make his case to the heavens and to each of us, as beings within one human family: “Have mercy… Grant peace…”
– Robert Kyr