By Sharon DelVento
By Sharon DelVento

    This is my way of urging all of you – or as many of you as will fit in the Decorah High School Auditorium – to attend the Decorah Chorale and Oneota Community Orchestra’s May 7, 3 p.m. performance of Mozart’s Requiem: the last piece of music he ever wrote, and one he did not even live to finish.

Why, you may ask, should we do that?

They’re not the Academy and Chorus of St. Martin in the Fields, after all, and it’s not like they’re being conducted by Neville Marriner or anything.

First of all, the Academy and Chorus of St. Martin in the Fields are in Australia at the moment.

Second, tickets would probably be around $100 a pop.

Third, Sir Neville is, alas, dead.

Our guys may not be asked to perform for the Queen any time soon, but you’ve got to give them an “A” for ambition. They do not aim low. Last year it was Beethoven’s Fifth.

Back when I was young and a first soprano, I sang in the chorus in Mozart’s Requiem and let me tell you, this work is – as my father, God rest his soul, would have put it – a ball-busting piece of music.

Everyone should support these hardy, intrepid souls who are, believe you me, rehearsing their little patooties off in order to bring you one of the most dramatic, exciting, scary, beautiful, and poignant works ever written.

Scary? Some of it is, you bet. It is the Mass for the Dead. We are not talking warm fuzzy God or Buddy Christ here. The Dies irae translates “Day of Wrath.” Judgment Day, vengeful God and all that. Between the intense agitation of the melody instruments, the punch of the chorus, and the booming of the timpani, it’s enough to make you wet yourself. If I woke up to this in the afterlife, I’d turn right around and dive back into the dirt. Eat your heart out, Stephen King.

There are celestial bits too, where you can almost see angel wings; the solos, the harmonies, the sheer lusciousness and sublimity of sound – ah, it doesn’t get better than this.

Don’t read the text translation during the performance. Just close your eyes, and let this glorious music wash over you and carry you away. Don’t ruin the moment. You’ll be able to tell the difference between the fear and trembling parts, the sorrowing parts, the praising God parts, and the hope of eternal life parts without a scorecard. Trust me on this.

The toughest part will be holding the applause until the end.

It’s shorter than most movies.

Your e-mail will wait for you.

And nothing – nothing – beats live music of this caliber.

Go for it.