When Baldwin High School Choral Director Kathy Carroll announced to her students that they would begin working on the master work “Messa de Gloria” by Giacomo Puccini they all gave her puzzling looks, she said.
Puccini, who is best known for his operas such as “La Boheme” and “Madame Butterfly,” is no walk in the park. “Messa de Gloria” - a 73-page composition in Latin - is not considered the typical high school musical piece to attempt, but Carroll had the highest confidence in her students.
“Very few teachers attempt master works with high school students, but in my opinion, if you don't give the students the opportunity to try something more rigorous, how are they supposed to grow as a musician?” she said.
According to Carroll, this master work was originally written for church masses. It includes five movements.
Carroll said she feels the harder the lesson, the more motivation her students will have to be successful. She began work on the piece with the chorus in February. For two and half months, the students practiced and pushed themselves to excel in this specific musical work.
“Halfway through the process we had about half of the students believing they could get it right while the other half weren't confident enough to think they'd get it down but by the end they all had realized that they exceeded their own expectations.”
The high school chorus will not be alone in achieving the feat. Joining them will be the church choir of First Methodist Church and the 26-piece orchestra from Georgia College and other musicians from the area.
“To have the experience to perform along with a chamber orchestra is something the students will never forget,” Carroll said.
The performance will be conducted by Lauren Harbor. Harbor was a student teacher at Baldwin High School and works as music director of First Methodist Church.
When choosing the piece for performance, Harbor and Carroll decided that “Messa de Gloria” would be the perfect work for both the high school chorus and the church choir.
“We had such a great working relationship and decided to combine our talents for this fabulous concert,” said Carroll.
The concert is slated for 7 p.m. Friday at First Methodist Church on Log Cabin Road. The event is free to the public, but donations will be collected. An English translation of the work will be included in the program for all audience members to enjoy.
“You'll be amazed at these bright young people as you watch and hear your taxes at work.”