Gounod & Mendelssohn Project

June 23 – 26, 2024 | Berlin, Germany

The fourth project in the CHORAL CELEBRATIONS series at the Philharmonie Berlin is dedicated to two exceptional women conductors: Diane Retallack & Elda Laro.
Two renowed ensembles, Eugene Concert Choir from the United States and Konzertchor Münster from Germany joined by singers from all over the world will come for the first time together on stage for this really unique performance at the Kammermusiksaal of the Philharmonie Berlin on June 26, 2024.

Charles Gounod
Messe solennelle de Sainte Cécile

Carus Edition (Vocal Score Carus 27.095/03)

The appearance of the Messe Saint-Cécile caused a kind of shock. This simplicity, this grandeur, this serene light which rose before the musical world like a breaking dawn, troubled people enormously. … at first one was dazzled, then charmed, then conquered.
This is how the composer Camille Saint-Saëns described his impression of the premiere. The work written in 1855 in honor of the patron saint of church music, soon became well-known beyond the borders of France and acquired a degree of popularity like almost no other sacred composition. In the Messe de Sainte Cécile, Gounod combines sublime simplicity with operatic-dramatic elements and a colorful, effective orchestration.

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Die Erste Walpurgisnacht

Bärenreiter Edition (Vocal Score BA09072-90)

During the summer of 1799, Goethe wrote his ballad “Die erste Walpurgisnacht” and asked his friend Carl Friedrich Zelter to set the work to music. Zelter however, felt unable to do this, and so Goethe’s wish was only realized thirty years later by Zelter’s former student Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.
“Die erste Walpurgisnacht” was first performed in the form in which the work is still performed today, in 1843 in Leipzig, in the presence of Robert Schumann and Hector Berlioz.

Eugene Concert Choir
Diane Retallack

Led by Artistic Director Diane Retallack, the Eugene Concert Choir is a celebrated pillar of the rich cultural fabric of the Pacific Northwest. Located in the picturesque Willamette Valley in Eugene, Oregon, the 100-voice chorus performs an eclectic blend of music from the greatest symphonic choral masterworks with orchestra and acclaimed world-class soloists, to modern popular works with contemporary guest artists.

Konzertchor Münster
Marion Wood

The Konzertchor Münster, which emerged from the Musikverein der Stadt Münster founded in 1816, is one of the oldest and most traditional choirs in Germany. The choir, which currently consists of around 70 singers, has always been closely linked to the city’s musical life. The Konzertchor Münster has been cooperating with the Münster Symphony Orchestra since 1919. In 2020, Marion Wood took over the artistic direction of the choir.

Ensemble Crescere
Donka Miteva

The Ensemble Crescere is CHORALSPACE’s own orchestra for choral symphonic projects. The young ensemble made its debut at the Philharmonie Berlin in March 2022 with the Coronation Anthems conducted by Simon Carrington. In June 2023 the ensemble performed “Ein Deutsches Requiem” by Johannes Brahms under the direction of Simon Halsey in the Philharmonie Berlin. This is the fifth project of the ensemble at the Philharmonie Berlin. Ensemble Crescere is led by Donka Miteva.

Elda Laro
Principal Conductor (Gounod)

Elda Laro is one of the most versatile artists of her generation. Born in Shkoder, Albania, she attracted attention early on as an exceptional musical talent. At the age of eleven, she performed Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with the national orchestra of her home country and, as one of the country’s most promising young musicians, was awarded a foreign scholarship that enabled her to study with the well-known pianist Remo Remoli at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Turin .
Elda is currently a coach, solo repetiteur and musical assistant at the traditional Deutsche Oper in Berlin and has already worked with many outstanding artists in the classical field. She recently led the orchestra of the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania with Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto. In 2015, the National Opera of Tirana invited her to debut with Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

Diane Retallack
Principal Conductor (Mendelssohn)

Celebrated for her passionate leadership, rich imagination and expressive performance, Dr. Diane Retallack has served as Artistic Director for Eugene Concert Choir since 1985.
Diane Retallack earned a Doctor of Music in Choral Conducting from Indiana University. At Indiana, she studied conducting with Margaret Hillis, the late Founder and Director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and score analysis from the late renowned choral scholar Julius Herford. Diane has also studied conducting with Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival and the Bach Sommerakademie in Stuttgart, Germany, and has participated as a singer at Carnegie Hall in several Robert Shaw Choral Workshops.
In 2005, she received the well deserved Bishop Arts and Letters Award for extraordinary contribution to arts and culture in Eugene. In 2010 Retallack was invited to conduct her chamber ensemble, Eugene Vocal Arts, at the American Choral Directors Association Northwest Conference in Seattle in recognition of their superb artistry.


Charles Gounod: Messe solennelle de Sainte Cécile
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Die erste Walpurgisnacht

Schedule of the project

JUNE 23, 2024
10:00 – 13:00 Choir and Piano Rehearsal 1 (all participants) at the Community Hall of the Luisenkirche
18:00 – 19:00 See Eugene Concert Choir performing at the Berliner Dom (Sunday church service)

JUNE 24, 2024
15:00 – 17:00 Choir and Piano Rehearsal 2 (all participants) at the Matthäuskirche (Kulturforum)
18:00 – 20:00 Choir and Piano Rehearsal 3 (all participants) at the Matthäuskirche (Kulturforum)

JUNE 25, 2024
10:00 – 12:30 Choir and Orchestra Rehearsal (all participants + soloists) at the Matthäuskirche (Kulturforum)
14:00 – 17:30 Dress Rehearsal at the Philharmonie Berlin (Kammermusiksaal)
20:00 – 22:00 Attend “Berlin Loves You” Concert at the Philharmonie Berlin (Kammermusiksaal)

JUNE 26, 2024
18:30 Placement and acoustic check at the Philharmonie Berlin (Kammermusiksaal)
20:00 Concert Gounod/Mendelssohn Projekt at the Philharmonie Berlin (Kammermusiksaal)

Overview of costs
for performers and friends

The participation fee for the four-day project and the concert is EUR 98.00.
Non-performing accompanying persons are offered a reduced participation fee of EUR 55.00 per person that includes access to all rehearsals, to the concerts of the fringe program and a ticket in the best category for the concert at the Philharmonie Berlin.

Register now

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any question or comments.