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Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Art Alert: Cairo Celebration Choir to perform Egypt premiere of Beethoven's major choral work

Cairo Celebration Choir, conducted by Nayer Nagui, will perform Beethoven's Mass in C major and Zur Namensfeier overture at the All Saints Cathedral and the Basilique Cathédrale

Ahram Online , Thursday 9 Jun 2016
beethoven and cairo celebration choir
Left: Beethoven [t], maestro Nayer Nagui [b], right: Cairo Celebration Choir and soloists in concert at All Saints' Cathedral on 17 June 2015 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Exactly one year after the Cairo Celebration Choir gave Egypt's premiere of Mozart's Great Mass (Große Messe) in C minor, the ensemble now returns with two premieres of Beethoven's works: Zur Namensfeier overture in C major, Op. 115 and Mass for soloists, chorus and orchestra in C major, Op. 86.

The compositions will be performed during two concerts, at All Saints Cathedral on 16 June followed by Basilique Cathédrale on 17 June.

Overture Zur Namensfeier (Feastday) in C major was composed by Beethoven in 1815 and first performed on Christmas Day the same year. The composition was dedicated to Polish patron of the arts Antoni Radziwiłł.

Composed in 1807, Mass in C major is scored for four vocal soloists, choir and orchestra and is considered among the most important of Beethoven's works. It was commissioned by Prince Nikolaus Esterházy to whom it was dedicated before the composer changed the dedication in later editions, probably due to the unsatisfactory reception received from the commissioner.

The Mass, nevertheless, was hailed by music aficionados of the time during several consecutive performances after the 1807 premiere. Parts of the Mass were performed to large acclaim in December 1808 in one concert that also featured Beethoven's premiere of the famed Symphony No. 5 and other compositions. 

This will be the first time for Egypt's audiences to be able to listen to the Mass, in the unique settings of Cairo churches.

The soloists of the evening are soprano Mona Rafla, mezzo soprano Jolie Faizy, tenor Amr Medhat and bass baritone Reda El-Wakil. The choir and the orchestra will be conducted by Nayer Nagui. 

Founded in 2000 by Nagui, the Cairo Celebration Choir consists of over 100 members. The has choir performed works representing several music schools: French repertoire with Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, Italian with Rossini's La Petite Messe Solennelle, German as represented by Schubert's Stabat Mater, Latin/Spanish with works by Guastavino, and explored English style with Handel's Ode for St Cecilia's Day. 

The choir has a few international appearances under their belt, in Morocco and France, among other tour events. In 2012, the choir participated in the Czech Republic's Prague Voices 2012 Festival, winning the Silver Level Diploma. Apart of Western classical works, their repertoire also includes compositions by Arab composers, arranged by Nagui. The choir regularly joins the Christmas performances staged annually at the Cairo Opera House.

According to Nagui, the Cairo Celebration Choir made a major artistic breakthrough with their performance last year of Mozart's Great Mass. Beethoven's Mass in C major is yet another important stepping stone in the choir's development.

Promo Beethoven's Mass in C Major op86 by the Cairo Celebration Choir


Thursday, 16 June, 9pm
All Saints Cathedral, Zamalek (behind the Marriott Hotel)

Friday, 17 June, 9pm
Basilique Cathédrale, Heliopolis

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