The Illinois State University Symphony, Concert Choir, and Civic Choir are collaborating to perform Messa Da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi under the baton of Maestro Maurizio Colasanti from Italy and featuring faculty vocalists Michelle Vought (soprano), Kathryn Leemhuis (mezzo soprano), Justin Vickers (tenor), and John Michael Koch (baritone). The concert will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, October 21, in the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall.

This concert will display furious strings, powerful brass, energetic woodwinds, grandiose percussion, and a glorious choir. The massive sound will also be greatly contrasted by the awe-inspiring sections that Messa Da Requiem has to offer. Every person ponders what will happen after they die at some point in their life. This is why so many people are moved by the text and musical setting Verdi’s Requiem creates. All of these emotions will be highlighted by the four vocalists as they help create an ambiance of death in the concert hall.

“My favorite part was the moment when we started putting everything together and hearing the orchestra with the (choral) ensembles,” said Civic Choral member Keith Schumacher (baritone) said of performing Verdi’s Requiem.

“An unforgettable experience of combining beautiful voices and orchestra for a gratifying and complete sound,” seconded Alex Clay (flute).

In 1868, four days after the death of Italian composer Gioachino Antonia Rossini, Verdi suggested that a group of Italian composers create a requiem in Rossini’s honor. Projected to be performed on the one-year anniversary of Rossini’s death, each composer was tasked with composing a different section of the piece. Verdi wrote the final section of the piece titled Libera me. Unfortunately, the concert was canceled nine days before the anniversary and was never performed until Messa per Rossini was revived and brought to life 1988.

Four years after the anniversary of Rossini’s death, Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian writer and humanist passed away. Verdi had great admiration for Manzoni and decided to dedicate a requiem to him that Verdi would write himself. Verdi had been working with Libera me because he was upset that it had not been performed as planned in honor of Rossini. Verdi used Libera me as a basis for the Messa Da Requiem written for Manzoni. Verdi traveled to Paris where he completed the requiem which was performed on the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death on May 22,1874.

I deny that either singers or conductors can create or work creatively. This as I have always said is a conception that leads to the abyss. Guiseppi Verdi

Maestro Maurizio Colasanti

Maestro Colasanti is well established on an international level as one of the most eclectic and dynamic conductors of his generation. An expert in contemporary music, he specializes in opera and music of the classic and romantic periods. Colasanti began music studies with E. De Renzis at the age of 5, played his first solo concert at the age of 7, and earned his first diploma cum laude from the “Luisa D’Annunzio” Conservatory of Music. He also graduated cum laude in philosophy from the Università G. D’Annunzio–Chieti. During the course of his studies, Colasanti was awarded several prizes in international music competitions. In 1990, joined by members of several Italian Symphony Orchestras, Maurizio Colasanti founded the chamber orchestra I Fiati Italiani, of which he is currently the music director.

Colasanti has played with many orchestras throughout the world, performing concerts in many of the world’s great concert halls including Carnegie Hall, New York; Royal Academy Of Music, London; University of Miami School of Music; Teatro San Carlo, Naples; Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; St. Martin in the Fields; Ottawa University; Miami Symphony Orchestra; Melba Hall; Konzerthaus Friburg; Seoul Opera House; Teatro do SESI Porto Alegre, Brqzil; Società Italiana della Musica e del Teatro; Singapore Theatre; Shanghai  Festival. Colasanti has appeared at Illinois State University four times since 2008.

For tickets or additional information, contact the College of Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts, open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, at (309) 438-2535, or purchase tickets online by visiting Tickets are $10 general admissions, $8 for faculty and staff, and $6 for students and seniors. Performance parking is available for free in the School Street Parking Deck in spots 250 and above, 400 West Beaufort Street, Normal.

Listen to an interview with Illinois State Director of Orchestras Glenn Block and Maestro Maurizio Colasanti: