Requiem Concert Performances
About this commission
Experience Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, one of classical music’s most virtuosic and transcendent works, in concert and in film. Electrifying conductor Teodor Currentzis and the 100-member orchestra and 80-member chorus musicAeterna from Russia will take the stage in The Shed’s McCourt to perform Requiem. Following rapturous reviews at this summer’s Salzburg Festival, the performances mark Currentzis and musicAeterna’s North American debut.
A new cinematic artwork set to Verdi’s score by late, beloved filmmaker Jonas Mekas, and co-commissioned by The Shed and Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, will accompany the performances of Requiem. From November 1 – 10, the film screened separately in the Level 4 Gallery.
In The Works
The story of Requiem begins in Italy in 1874. That year, the composer Giuseppe Verdi premiered his Messa da Requiem, a setting of the Catholic funeral Mass that enraptured audiences at the Church of San Marco in Milan with his gifts for symphonic and choral writing and dramatic use of melody and rhythm. Verdi dedicated his score—written for four soloists, double choir, and orchestra—to his friend Alessandro Manzoni, the famed Italian poet, novelist, and hero of the 19th-century Risorgimento movement for Italian unification who had died the year before. Verdi’s masterpiece remains today a virtuosic and transcendent musical homage to the dead, ready for reimagining in the North American debut of the prodigious conductor Teodor Currentzis and his musicAeterna orchestra and chorus. Their performances of the Requiem at The Shed will be in counterpoint with a specially commissioned cinematic artwork by the late, beloved filmmaker Jonas Mekas that meditates on the most urgent story of our times—the threat posed to the natural world.
The Requiem has been transcribed and performed in different ways over the last 145 years, from piano solos to fully staged operas, including performances by prisoners in the Terezín concentration camp in 1943 and 1944. Over several years, Currentzis and musicAeterna have been developing a deep engagement with Verdi’s Requiem that continues this tradition of reimagining Verdi’s masterpiece. The Requiem, selected by Currentzis at our invitation for these performances at The Shed, allows the conductor and these musicians to share their transformative abilities to awaken this music nearly a century and a half after its first performance. Over the course of selecting this work from his repertoire, Currentzis was drawn by the rich history of reimaginings of the Requiem. In particular, he shared with us his enthusiasm for a cinematic interpretation by Derek Jarman (1989) of composer Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, which combines the text of the funeral Mass with wartime poems by Wilfred Owens.
Currentzis’s interest sparked a creative opening for this Shed commission, and the opportunity to invite Mekas to contribute his own interpretation of Verdi’s score. Mekas, whom the New York Times has called “the godfather of avant-garde cinema,” not only brought his vision as a filmmaker, poet, critic and philosopher, but so too his lifelong love of music to his interpretation of the Requiem. His cinematic artwork, edited by his longtime collaborator Elle Burchill, is an interplay of moving images shot by the artist and text from passages sung in Requiem, originally taken from the Roman Catholic missal, a book of liturgical instructions for performing Mass, that plays in counterpoint to the live performance of the score as an ecstatic eulogy for the natural world. Mekas, who immigrated to New York City in 1949 from post-war Germany and Lithuania, and who passed away in January at the age of 96, was forever inspired by this city.
We are excited to share with you the inspirational work of Currentzis and musicAeterna, with one of Mekas’s last artworks, and we hope that at the end of 2019 this Requiem will provide a time for collective reflection and meditation across artistic disciplines and historical eras.
Teodor Currentzis is the founder and artistic director of the musicAeterna ensemble and chamber choir. The ensemble was resident at Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre from 2011 until 2019. In July 2019, Currentzis stepped down as artistic director of Perm Opera in order to lead musicAeterna as an independent, privately financed ensemble.
With musicAeterna, Currentzis regularly tours Europe with performances at the Berlin Philharmonic, Philharmonie de Paris, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, La Scala Milan, and the Madrid Auditorio. musicAeterna has a long standing relationship with the Salzburg Festspiele; performances in Salzburg include a new production of La Clemenza di Tito directed by Peter Sellars in 2017, which traveled to Dutch Opera where Currentzis made his debut in 2018, a full cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies cycle in 2018, and Idomeneo in 2019, directed by Peter Sellars in collaboration with the Freiburg Baroque and the musicAeterna choir. Currentzis and musicAeterna made their BBC Proms debut in 2018 and made their Japanese debut in February 2019 with concerts in Tokyo and Osaka.
In 2018 – 19, Currentzis was appointed the chief conductor of the SWR Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart. In his first year with SWR, he conducted Mahler Symphonies No. 3 and 4, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 in performances in Stuttgart and on tour visiting the Vienna Konzerthaus, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, and Cologne Philharmonie amongst others. He finished his first season with SWR with a final performance of Shostakovich’s No. 7 at the Salzburg Festival. In November 2019, Currentzis will make his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic with Verdi’s Requiem and the musicAeterna choir.
Past highlights of Currentzis’s career include Resident Artist at the Vienna Konzerthaus beginning 2016 – 17 and including concerts with Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, and musicAeterna; performing Brahms’s Requiem with musicAeterna choir and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra as part of the Diaghilev Festival, Perm, and on tour in Europe; a tour with Mahler Chamber Orchestra of Berio’s Coro; La Clemenza di Tito and Mozart’s Requiem at Salzburg Festival and Verdi’s Macbeth at Zurich Opera with Barrie Kosky (2016); Wagner’s Das Rheingold with musicAeterna orchestra (2015, RUHRtriennale in Bochum); Tchaikovsky’s Iolanthe and Stravinsky’s Persephone, which premiered in Madrid in 2012, at Aix Festival (2015); Purcell’s The Indian Queen in Madrid (2012); Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in Zurich (2012); and Weinberg’s The Passenger with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in Bregenz (2010).
As the former artistic director of Perm Opera, Currentzis has commissioned several important new works, including Phillipe Hersants’s Tristia (2016), Dmitrii Kourliandski’s opera Nosferatu (2014), Alexei Syumak’s opera Cantos (2016), and a violin concerto by Sergey Nevsky (2015).
Currentzis and musicAeterna are exclusive Sony artists and have released the Mozart’s Da Ponte trilogy, Stravinsky’s Les Noces, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (with Patricia Kopatchinskaja), Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. Previous recordings include Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14, Mozart’s Requiem, and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, all on the Alpha label, and Shostakovich’s Piano Concertos with Alexander Melnikov and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra on the Harmonia Mundi label.
In 2017, ECHO Klassik awarded the DVD/Blu-ray production of Purcell’s The Indian Queen, directed by Peter Sellers, with Currentzis and musicAeterna, following on a previous ECHO Klassik award in 2016 for Symphonic Recording (20th/21st-Century Music) for their recording of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, both released on Sony Classical. In 2015, Currentzis and his brother Vangelino Currentzis recorded and composed the soundtrack of the European Games opening ceremony in Baku and were nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Music Direction and Composition. Currentzis was awarded the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation in 2008, and was the recipient of the Toepfer Foundation’s prestigious Kairos Award in 2016. The same year, Opernwelt named Currentzis Best Conductor of the Year for his Macbeth at Zurich Opera.
Currentzis has been awarded seven Golden Masks, Russia’s prestigious theater award, most recently in 2017 for Best Opera Conductor for La Traviata, a Perm Opera production directed by Robert Wilson. Previous awards include the Best Opera Conductor award (The Indian Queen, 2015, Cosi Fan Tutte, Perm, 2013, and Wozzeck, Bolshoi, 2011), one for a “brilliant performance of Prokofiev’s score” (Cinderella, 2007), and for “outstanding results in the area of authentic performance” (The Marriage of Figaro, 2008).
In 2006, combining his knowledge and passion for early music with contemporary composers and new music, Currentzis started the Territoria Modern Art Festival in Moscow. Since 2012, Currentzis has also curated the Diaghilev Festival, held in his birth town in Russia. Born in Greece, Russia has been Currentzis’s home since the beginning of the 1990s, when he began studying conducting at the state conservatory of St. Petersburg under the tutelage of Professor Ilya Musin, whose pupils included renowned conductors Odyseuss Dimitriadis, Valery Gergiev, and Semyon Bychkov.
Tuba / Cimbasso
Eleni Lydia Stamellou
Location and dates
November 21 and 23 at 7:30 pm
November 24 at 3 pm
- Running time: 90 minutes
- There is no late seating; please arrive early.
- To help us honor the ceremonial nature of the performance, please silence phones and put them away.
- Photography and video recording are not permitted.
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Senior Program Advisor
Nadine Goellner, Producer
Marc Warren, Director of Production
Sarah Pier, Production Supervisor
Daisy Peele, Associate Producer
Maggie MacTiernan, Director of Artist Services
Joe Dimartino, Technical Director
Neal Wilkinson, Production Management
Mark Grey, Sound Design
Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams, Scenic Design
Betsy Ayer, Production Stage Manager
Austin Switser, Video Design / Programmer
Stuart Burgess, Head Electrician
Stefan Carrillo, Head Carpenter
Colin Roche, Head Rigger
Jim Van Bergen, Head Audio
Acoustic Scenery by Wenger Corporation and Exploring Inc.
Staging Supplied by All Access Staging
Additional lighting by 4Wall
Additional audio equipment by Sound Associates
Additional video equipment by Panavid
Additional music equipment by Best Instrument Rentals, Boulevard Carroll Entertainment Group, and Los Angeles Percussion Rentals
Pianos by Steinway & Sons