Q& A: John Daly Goodwin Discusses Dvořšk's Stabat Mater; NYCS Season Closes May 1

Classic Arts Features   Q& A: John Daly Goodwin Discusses Dvořšk's Stabat Mater; NYCS Season Closes May 1
On May 1 at Carnegie Hall, the New York Choral Society closes its 52nd season with a performance of Antonin Dvořšk's powerful Stabat Mater. New York Choral Society conductor John Daly Goodwin discusses the work.

The performance will feature acclaimed soprano Angela Meade, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, tenor Yeghishe Manucharyan and bass-baritone Burak Bigili accompanied by the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

The Stabat Mater is the first of Dvořšk's work with a religious theme. Started after the loss of his daughter and later completed in 1877 after the death of two more of his children, this monumental piece _ extremely spiritual and reflective of the composer's personal life experiences _ is one of the most powerful of Dvořšk's compositions.


You are performing Dvořšk's Stabat Mater on the anniversary of the great composer's death. Why did you choose to close the season with such an emotive and powerful piece?

The Dvořšk Stabat Mater is one of the greatest choral works of the 19th Century and as such should be performed by groups like the NYCS with regularity. Great works such as this are the standards by which we measure ourselves. Our performance on May 1st will be the third time I have conducted the Stabat Mater with the NYCS over the past 20 years. That we will perform it in Carnegie Hall, where Dvořšk himself performed, on the anniversary of his death is an added bonus for us and our audience.

How do you prepare to conduct such an impassioned piece?

The preparation process is essentially the same for any piece of music, one must live with the score for a long time, constantly mining it for its subtleties and nuances. Every composition has its own "backstory" related to the composer's reason for writing it. The story behind Dvořšk's composition of the Stabat Mater is so compelling and intensely personal that it becomes an integral part of the preparation process.

Joining NYCS for this performance are some extremely talented vocalists. Have you worked with any of them before?

All four soloists are well known to opera and concert audiences. Yegishe and Burak have appeared with the NYCS in Carnegie Hall and we are delighted to have them with us again. Angela, who's quickly making a name for herself on the international opera scene, sang at the 2010 NYCS Gala in honor of our friend Eve Queler and we all fell in love with her voice at that event. This will be the first time the NYCS has worked with Tamara and we are looking forward to developing a musical relationship with her.

What is your last thought before the first wave of the baton?

That varies depending on the piece of music and how it speaks to me. My thought before walking onto the Carnegie stage is always the same: "I can't believe they pay me to do this!"

Was there a defining moment or breakthrough when you decided that music would be your life?

I remember the first time I sang in a choir in public school and knew that I would keep singing for the rest of my life. It has only gotten better ever since.


Tickets are $30 - $80 and can be purchased through the Carnegie Hall box office located at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, or by visiting www.carnegiehall.org or calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800.

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