Lincoln Art Festival is dedicated to preserve, support and present in the Boothbay Region the performing, visual and applied arts and humanities. LAF is delighted to present, to the residents and visitors of the Boothbay Region, the Lincoln Festival Chorus, in two performances of Joseph Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass.”
Artistic Director Linda Blanchard is well-known in the area directing several groups and has a varied background in theatrical and orchestral directing, as a church organist and choir director. Accompanist Sean Fleming is one of Maine’s most sought-after keyboard artists and has performed piano and organ recitals throughout the United States. Professional soloists include Soprano Jennifer Bates, Alto Joelle Morris, Tenor Virgil Bozeman IV and Bass John David Adams.
The Nelson Mass, according to Joseph Haydn’s biographer, is arguably the composer’s “greatest single composition”. It is a work that was written at a time of intense fear for the future of Austria: in 1979-1798 Napoleon Bonaparte had defeated the Austrian army in four major battles, even crossing the Alps and threatening Vienna itself. This prevailing political and financial instability impacted the musical forces that Hayden had at his disposal in the Esterhazy court where he spent some 30 years of his career. In an effort to save money, Prince Nicolaus Esterhazy had recently dismissed his woodwind players and horns, and Haydn was able to hire only trumpets and timpani to supplement his string ensemble. Occasionally, the organ is given a brief solo passage, as if to compensate. But out of this limited orchestration, Haydn created the stark, memorable sound that makes this mass so distinctive and powerful.
What Haydn didn’t know however as he penned the work was that the British had dealt Napoleon a stunning defeat in the Battle of the Nile. As the news reverberated around the world, Nelson was heralded as the “savior of Europe.” Napoleon’s defeat changed the way that the Mass was heard from then on. The menacing opening leading into the drama that followed became a depiction of danger and agitation supplanted by triumphant victory.
The Lincoln Festival Chorus will also sing a Sean Felming’s arrangement, “A Forties Hit Parade Medley” in celebration of Lincoln Arts Festival’s 42nd season. Songs will include “The White Cliffs of Dover,” an arrangement of “Don’t Fence Me In,” and “Sentimental Journey.”
Performances will be Friday, Aug. 12, and Sunday, Aug. 14, at 7:30 p.m. at the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor. Tickets, $25, are available online at lincolnartsfestival.org or at Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop in Boothbay Harbor. Tickets are also available at the door 30 minutes prior to each performance.