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Office of Communications 
St. Bonaventure University 
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More News

Performers set for St. Bonaventure University's world premiere of Fabio Luisi's 'Saint Bonaventure Mass'

Sep 08, 2017 |

Principal participants and performers are set for the Sunday, Sept. 17, world premiere of “Saint Bonaventure Mass,” a renowned music director’s gift to St. Bonaventure University in honor of the 800th anniversary of the birth of its patron saint.

Fabio LuisiThe composition, written by Fabio Luisi, former principal conductor of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and dedicated to Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., president emeritus at St. Bonaventure, will premiere within a liturgical Mass at the University Chapel at 5 p.m. The Mass is free and open to the public.

Two days later, Sept. 19, Luisi’s Mass will make its New York City debut, in concert form only, in a 5:30 p.m. performance at The Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum.

The Mass, honoring the 800th anniversary of the birth of Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, will feature a chamber ensemble of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra composed of violinists Dennis Kim (soloist) and Antoine Lefebvre, Valerie Heywood on viola, cellist Roman Mekinulov, timpanist Matthew Bassett and percussionist Mark Hodges.

Mass participants and performersThey will be joined by the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, with guests from St. Bonaventure, under the direction of Adam Luebke. Known for his passionate artistry and versatility, Luebke recently made his Lincoln Center debut as guest conductor of the National Chorale.

Soloists include soprano Michelle Aryzaga and baritone SeokJong Baek. 

Aryzaga has performed with New York City Opera and has had leading operatic roles, including with Chicago Opera. She has many appearances as an orchestral soloist, including with Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Opera and Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Baek, who was raised in South Korea, is a first-prize winner of Ontario, Canada’s Peel Music Festival. He earned an undergraduate degree from Manhattan School of Music, where he is presently pursuing a master’s degree under the tutelage of world renowned soprano Ashley Putnam.

The recitant will be Broadway star and Tony Award nominee Michel Bell, a former member of the pop vocal music group Fifth Dimension. Known for his emotional portrayal of Porgy in Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” he was nominated for a Tony in 1995 for his role of Joe in Hal Prince’s production of “Show Boat.”

The conductor is Catherine Matejka, who has performed internationally in that role and as a piano soloist, accompanist and chamber musician. She was music director and conductor for the national tour of Hal Prince’s “Show Boat” and has served on the faculties at University of Massachusetts, Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce University.

The Mass liturgy will be sung in Latin, with the texts and prayers by Saint Bonaventure recited in an English translation by Fr. Dominic Monti, O.F.M., Ph.D., distinguished professor of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure and former university president. A prominent church and Franciscan historian, Fr. Dominic teaches in the university’s renowned Franciscan Institute and is a member of Holy Name Province, one of the university’s founding provinces.

Following the Mass at St. Bonaventure, composer Luisi and Fr. Richard S. Vosko will be honored at an invitation-only fund-raising dinner on the Quick Center stage. Fr. Richard served as a consultant on the design of St. Bonaventure’s new McGinley-Carney Center for Franciscan Ministry. Each will be presented with an honorary degree from the university before the Mass on Sept. 17.

The university approached Luisi three years ago about possibly commissioning a Mass. A devout Catholic, Luisi said he would “compose this Mass for God,” accepting only travel expenses to attend the premiere.

A native of Genoa, Italy, Luisi is presently music director general of the Zurich Opera and principal conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. He will launch a new appointment as music director of Opera di Firenze, Florence, Italy, in the spring of 2018. A former chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony, he was honored with the orchestra’s Golden Bruckner Medal and Ring.

A Grammy Award winner, his extensive discography features operas by Verdi, Salieri, and Bellini; symphonies by Honegger, Respighi, and Liszt; works by Franz Schmidt and Richard Strauss; and an award-winning account of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony.

Tickets for the New York City performance, Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum, are $65. Call the Met Cloisters box office at (212) 923-3700.


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things.  St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #6 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.



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