Venite, populi, venite
de longe venite
Come, o peoples, come;
come from afar
The city of Leipzig loves its classical music--and not just that of J.S. Bach! Austrian-born composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a child prodigy (could the next Mozart be studying at HGS?!), wrote 41 symphonies; countless concertos for instruments like the piano, violin, and flute; sonatas; duets; trios; quartets; quintets; marches, dances; masses; and just about every compositional style you can imagine! He is even famous for writing his own Requiem funeral service (a masterful work that I got to perform at Carnegie Hall my sophomore year of high school)!
This week, we are performing two of his motets with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra: Regina Coeli, k.276, and Venite Populi, k.260. Much like a BWV number, the "k" is an abbreviation for the name Ludwig Von Köchel, the man who catalogued his works. It also provides chronology, so we can gather that Venite Populi is the older of the two compositions. Venite Populi is a motet for double choir, meaning that the ensemble is split in half with two separate groups of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass singers. The piece opens with the soprano section of the second choir inviting the audience into the piece with a resounding cry of "Venite, populi, venite!" This begins a call and response form that continues throughout the piece, even in the slower adagio section.
Regina Coeli is a setting of a text in adoration of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. Sounds odd? Remember that Mozart was writing in a very Catholic Austria as opposed to the very Lutheran Germany, where adoration of Mary is much less common. The piece features lush orchestrations that some believe were written as an homage to Händel. This is perhaps especially true of the tri-grouped "Alleluia!" that sounds suspiciously like Händel's famous chorus from his oratorio Messiah.
I am singing both of these pieces for the second time, as we also toured with them in 2012. I was even lucky enough to be able to sing the soprano solo in Regina Coeli in one of those performances! I think Mozart would be thrilled to know that his music still serves as an invitation for people of all nations and cultures to rejoice and sing together et inebriemur vino laetitiae sempiternae!
Or, if you must have your Latin translated, "and become drunk with the wine of everlasting joy"!