TOLEDO — Three Bowling Green State University choirs were part of making beautiful music in a spectacular venue on Sunday.
Three Bowling Green State University choirs performed with the Toledo Symphony in the “Messa Di Gloria The Music of Giacomo Puccini” at the Rosary Cathedral.
The special event included guest conductor Giordano Bellincampi, music director of the Auckland Philharmonia; tenor Zach Borichevsky; and baritone Luis Ledesma.
Puccini (1858-1924) was an Italian composer best known for his contributions to opera. For almost 200 years his family had held the position of church organist in Lucca, Italy.
Sister Mary Bethany, a sister with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, came to hear the performance from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“I think every experience of beauty can help us encounter God. So when we encounter a beautiful piece of music or a beautiful piece of art we are brought into an encounter with God. Specifically, this piece of sacred music does that very powerfully,” Bethany said.
The first half of the program was selections from a variety of Puccini’s works: “Preludio Sinfonico,” “Recondita armonia,” from “Tosca,” “Nulla! Silenzio!,” from “Il tabarro,” “O Mimi, tu pìu non torni,” from “La bohème,” “Intermezzo,” from “Manon Lescaut” and “E suda e arrampica!” from “Madama Butterfly.”
Soloists Borichevsky and Ledesma were part of both halves of the program.
The BGSU choirs were part of the second half of the performance. Three choirs took part: the A Cappella Choir and the University Choral Society, both directed by Mark Munson, and the Collegiate Chorale, directed by Richard Schnipke.
The “Messa Di Gloria” was a final thesis Puccini composed finishing his formal musical studies. It is a mass written for orchestra and four-part choir with tenor and baritone soloists. The five movements were: the “Kyrie,” the “Gloria,” the “Credo,” the “Sanctus–Bennedictus” and the “Agnus Dei.”
Mark Bunce, a tenor who said that he joined the University Choral Society only four years ago, commented on this chance to be one voice in a choir singing with the Toledo Symphony.
“This was a tremendous experience. For one thing, it’s just amazing that a choir gets to sing with a professional orchestra, and that doesn’t happen every day. So this opportunity to sing with the Toledo Symphony is thrilling, absolutely thrilling,” Bunce said.