Thousands tune in for Missa Solemnis

Missa Solemnis in Lisbon - February 2010

Maestro Nelson conducts
Beethoven's Missa Solemnis

An audience of 2,000 gathered in Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Grand Auditorium for two performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis last month. John Nelson led the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Gulbenkian Choir and soloists Tamara Wilson, Elizabeth DeShong, Nikolai Schukoff and Brindley Sherratt in a piece the conductor considers “one of the mountain peaks of the entire western classical tradition.” 3,400 people tuned in to the live video webcast on, and an additional 50,000-70,000 viewers are expected over the next two months.

Every year there seems to be a musical highlight, a moment that I either look forward to with great anticipation or that catches me by surprise.  This season, so far, it clearly was the SDG-sponsored filming of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in Lisbon. Everything about this occasion was thrilling, from the soloists, chorus and orchestra,  to the filming and the response of the audience.  I had done this monumentally difficult work with four previous ensembles, including the great Atlanta Symphony  Orchestra and Chorus, but none came close to this rendition. Part of the success stemmed simply from my deep immersion in the work over the past several months to the point of finally feeling ‘at home’ with it.  But a greater part of the success came from a remarkable cohesion between all performers, especially the choir, which sang with a confidence and joyous commitment that blew us all away. It was truly a privilege to be a part of such music making.  We professionals that spend our lives making music day in and day out are blessed to do what we do.  But it is not every day that we experience everything coming together in a kind of perfection.  This was that day.

- John Nelson, Artistic Director

Missa Solemnis is available for viewing at, and will remain free of charge through April 17, 2010. The production will be released worldwide on DVD lin 2011.