British tenor Nicholas Mulroy 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When it comes to plain old grandeur, classical works do not come much bigger
than J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor. As it is such a well-known and beloved
work it is probably a good idea to offer your audience some added value and the
Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra (JBO), under the baton of English conductor Andrew
Parrott, will provide just that.
The JBO is performing the work this
evening (9 p.m.) at the Jerusalem Theater, following a well-received rendition
at the Enav Center in Tel Aviv last night, on period instruments. This is the
first time the B Minor Mass has been performed on period instruments in this
British tenor Nicholas Mulroy is certainly delighted with the
JBO’s choice of instruments, and says that it offers an intriguing angle on how
he approaches the job in hand.
“When the ensemble uses period instruments
it makes a difference,” he observes.
“It makes for a slightly lower pitch
and a different sound and, as a singer, you tailor your sound to the lighter
more transparent sound the period instruments make.”
33 year old
Liverpool-born Mulroy has performed the B Minor Mass several times over the
years, including with the Staatskapelle Dresden ensemble of
“They are a very Mahler-style ensemble and have a very different
sound,” he adds.
“The mass is one of the greatest works ever written and
it is very exciting to perform it with different instruments and with orchestras
with a different approach. When you practice before a performance of a
work which you know will be played with, for example, period instruments you
prepare yourself, mentally and vocally, accordingly.”
When Mulroy was a
youngster, growing up in Liverpool, there was a chance that he may eke out a
living in an entirely different area of music, one which perhaps suits the
English city’s more recent musical history better than works from the baroque
“I was actually a bit of a rocker when I was at school,” he says,
“and I sang in a Doors tribute band.” But he was always involved in
non-commercial music too, including having a berth in the choir at the Liverpool
Mind you, nature did get in the way of his vocal progress
“I stopped singing for a few years when my voice broke,”
says the tenor, “and I played piano and oboe.”
Mulroy resumed his singing
endeavor at Cambridge University but says his instrumental hiatus informs his
“I played both instruments, I must say, with limited success
but with great enthusiasm. Obviously, being familiar with how different
instruments work, especially the piano, helps you understand the role of the
instrumentalist, and that helps my work as a singer.”
OVER THE last
decade or so Mulroy has accumulated a wealth of experience across a wide swath
of works, from baroque works to far more modern pieces, by the likes of late
19th centuryearly 20th century Czech composer Leos Janacek, and various operatic
roles. He has worked with numerous ensembles, including the Orchestra of the Age
of Enlightenment, English Chamber Orchestra and BBC Philharmonic, and under top
conductors such as Sir Colin Davis and Nicholas Kraemer.
Mulroy says it
helps to have Parrott at the helm when approaching a work of the magnitude of
Bach’s Mass in B Minor. “You try your best to the get to the heart of the
work you are performing, and to understand the composer’s
intentions. Andrew gets so close to the mind of the composer. There is
great authenticity in everything Andrew does.”
Mind you, even having
period instruments and a conductor, like Parrott, who is so steeped in the
spirit and works of the baroque era, at the end of the day it is what each
player and each singer brings with them to the performance. Mulroy says that he,
and his fellow vocalists in the B Minor Mass have to bring their technical
skills and own personal and cultural baggage to the job.
In addition to
Mulroy, the vocal element of the work will be covered by sopranos Claire
Meghnagi, Revital Raviv, Avigail Gurtler and Carmit Natan, mezzosoprano Petra
Noskaiova from Austria, alto Avital Deri, tenor David Nortman, baritone Yair
Polishook and bass-baritone Oded Reich.
“For me the main thing is the
authenticity you bring with you, that you should do whatever feels true for you.
You can’t try to be someone else, you have to work through your own filter. What
I like about the music is getting my hands dirty and really getting involved
myself.”The Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra will perform J.S. Bach’s Mass in
B Minor at the Henry Crown Auditorium, Jerusalem Theater this evening at 9 p.m.
For tickets and more information: Bimot - 8 Shamai Street, Jerusalem 02-6237000
and the Jerusalem Theatre - 02-5605755