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“A Mozart Crescendo” featuring Agnus Dei commissioned to complete Mozart’s C Minor Mass and visit by composer and President of American Symphony Orchestra League is high point of 23-event NCR Miracle of Mozart Festival

On Friday and Saturday evenings, May 19 and 20 respectively, at 8 pm at the Schuster Center the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes Robert Xavier Rodriguez, whom it commissioned to write the Agnus Dei movement, a part of the liturgy of Mozart’s Mass in C minor, K. 427 that Mozart failed to write, leaving the Mass unfinished.

In recognition of the world premiere of Rodriguez’s composition, American Symphony Orchestra League President and CEO Henry Fogel will make a special visit to Dayton and the DPO on Friday, May 19. The American Symphony Orchestra League provides leadership and service to American orchestras, while communicating to the public the value and importance of orchestras and the music they perform.

With all the Mozartian repertoire available to him, why did DPO Music Director Neal Gittleman choose to perform an unfinished Mass? He didn’t…exactly.

Even though several composers have attempted to complete the Mozart Mass, Gittleman had never heard a satisfactory ending, one that completes the K. 427 C Minor Mass in a contemporarily satisfying way. The Mass is some of Mozart’s most beautiful, most inspired writing. But Gittleman has always found listening to this mass a strangely unsatisfying experience. “Even though I’m a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn,” he states, “for me, it isn’t a mass if it doesn’t end with an Agnus Dei – with the heartfelt prayer dona nobis pacem (give us peace).”

So Gittleman turned to his longtime friend, composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez, to compose a suitable Agnus Dei. Rodríguez’s approach to composition was to juxtapose musical forms, so as to make one reflect the other, much as the glass of a modern European skyscraper might show the reflection of a nearby Baroque-Era cathedral.

The result? “He did it,” Gittleman remarks, “Gracefully, Imaginatively. Convincingly. Movingly. Beautifully. Over the years we’ve done many great things at the Dayton Philharmonic. But bringing this piece to life is one of the things I’m proudest of.”

The world premiere of Rodriguez’s Agnus Dei, Mozart’s Mass in C minor, K. 427, and Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183 are all featured in this the final concert of the DPO’s 2005-2006 Classical Series Season.

At 7 pm in the Mead Theatre, Neal Gittleman will conduct a Take Note discussion, with special guest Robert Xavier Rodriguez.