Last night I heard the Ohio University Symphony Orchestra and Choir perform Mozart's Requiem (K626). They did a fairly decent job of it, and I was impressed in particular by the trombone solo in the Tuba mirum. The vocal soloists were also quite good, though they were somewhat engulfed by the largest choir I have ever seen. There may have been as many folks in the choir as in the audience. Something tells me that was not the practice in Mozart's time. At any rate the soloists were fine, and the soprano, in particular, was very expressive and was able to project out over the orchestra in a way that is often difficult for non-professionals. Somewhat less successful, in my opinion, was the male counter-tenor who sang in place of an alto.
The version that I heard last night was the Levin completion, which is not my favorite, though it seems to be one of the most popular these days. I prefer the version by Maunder that was recorded by Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music back in 1984, but that version is very sparse, utilizing only those parts that are genuine or have substantially genuine content, and it would not be as satisfying a performance in some ways, since it lasts only about 45 minutes. The fact that Emma Kirkby sings soprano in that version doesn't hurt, either!
This year marks the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, and I suppose the chances are that I'll be able to hear some more Mozart during the course of the year. That will make this year unusual, because the Ohio University Program Council seems to think that classical music is not worth listening to: they almost never schedule any. When we complained about the fact that the schedule is unrelentingly late 20th century in its orientation, we were told that "part of a college education is being exposed to something different." I agree completely--that's why I think they should schedule more classical music: it would be markedly different from what they ordinarily have, and the students could actually get to hear some for a change. Do the programmers really thing that the millions of iPods on campus are all fully loaded with classical music? Right. Will students attend classical concerts? I've been to both classical and modern programs, and I have to say that the attendance is always much better at the classical ones--at least in my own limited experience. The hall was not exactly packed last night, but it was very well attended, and the audience was almost entirely student-aged folks. I saw some faculty colleagues but they were few and far between. There seems to me to be a real market for this kind of thing among the students themselves. They seem to understand what it is that they really need to be exposed to.