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The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI: Yannick conducts Beethoven’s majestic 'Missa Solemnis'

Missa Solemnis performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra
Jeff Fusco
The Philadelphia Orchestra performing Beethoven's Missa Solemnis in April, 2022

Join us on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, and Monday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2 when our Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series brings you a performance recorded live in April, 2022.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Orchestra and the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, which, for all its renown, is rarely performed — so this is a special opportunity to hear it in its entirety. The quartet of distinguished soloists includes soprano Jennifer Rowley, mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill, tenor Rodrick Dixon, and bass-baritone Eric Owens.

The Missa Solemnis is one of Beethoven’s last and largest compositions. Rooted in the Roman Catholic Mass, the work sets the Ordinary—in other words, the portions of the text for this core service that remain constant from one mass to the next. They are: the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. But while many great composers dedicated their masses to the glory of God, Beethoven inscribed his manuscript with the words, “From the heart, may it go to the heart.” 

“The fact that Beethoven decided to take a religious text, and talk about the human heart... sums up very beautifully what Beethoven's contribution to music history has been. And for me, if I were to just keep one piece from Beethoven, I think it would be Missa Solemnis.”

-Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Part of the experience for the audience in the hall was a huge visual installation, visible on a massive vertical computer monitor suspended above the performers. Media artist Refik Anadol created a constantly changing river of computer-generated imagery, which responded in real time to the music being played. Most of the images were abstract, but suggestive of grand architecture, human forms, and landscapes.

During the broadcast, we’ll pause between the Credo and the Sanctus, when Yannick will share his thoughts about this glorious work of music in a conversation with Susan Lewis.


Beethoven: Missa Solemnis, Op. 123

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
Jennifer Rowley, soprano
Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano
Rodrick Dixon, tenor
Eric Owens, bass-baritone
Philadelphia Symphonic Choir

Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concertbroadcasts, every Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your favorite smart speaker. Listen again on Mondays at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2. Listen for up to two weeks after broadcast on WRTI Replay.

Melinda has worked in radio for decades, hosting and producing classical music and arts news. An award-winning broadcaster, she has created and hosted classical music programs and reported for NPR, WQXR—New York, WHYY–Philadelphia, and American Public Media. WRTI listeners may remember her years hosting classical music for WFLN and WHYY.
Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.