Silver Bay man performs ‘Requiem’ with DSSONathan Herfindahl has been said to “stagger the audience with his power, flexibility and sensitivity.”
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Nathan Herfindahl has been said to “stagger the audience with his power, flexibility and sensitivity.”
Not surprising, as he’s performed internationally — including in concerts with Placido Domingo. But a little more than 10 years ago, he was singing in the choir at Silver Bay’s William Kelley High School.
Herfindahl’s auditorium-filling voice will be part of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra’s “Mostly Mozart” concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Auditorium, where he’ll be one of the soloists performing Mozart’s “Requiem.”
Herfindahl’s relationship with the DSSO dates back to when he was a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth studying voice under Rachel Inselman. He makes an appearance nearly every season, most recently in May during the DSSO’s 2009-10 finale, “DSSO Chorus Live: A Night at the Opera.”
“He has a wonderful voice and a rich voice and a powerful voice, and flexible,” said Markand Thakar, the DSSO conductor who also has worked with Herfindahl on projects with the Duluth Festival Opera. “It’s such a beautiful instrument and so projecting.”
Saturday’s concert includes Beethoven’s “Leonore Overture No. 3” and Schumann’s “Concerto for Piano in A Minor,” in addition to Mozart’s “Requiem.”
After graduating from UMD, Herfindahl spent two years as part of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at Washington National Opera, an intensive program that included auditioning for Domingo and performing with the famed tenor in Beijing.
He has made St. Paul his home base but has spent plenty of time on the road. A year ago he had a performance with the Washington National Opera and then performed with the Metropolitan Opera in the spring.
Herfindahl scaled back his travel since the birth of his 6-month-old daughter and is teaching three days a week. He has a handful of performances scheduled between now and March. He loves the idea of singing, he said, and he also loves the idea of watching his daughter grow up.
“The business itself takes a toll on a person after a while,” Herfindahl said. “Especially if that person really enjoys the family concept. There are a lot of sort of maverick-type people who don’t mind always being somewhere new.”
The mix of performances and teaching keeps things fresh and new, he said, though he would like to be doing more opera work.
With Saturday’s concert, Herfindahl is introducing a new piece to his repertoire. He has performed Mozart’s “Requiem” as part of an ensemble but never as a soloist.
“I love this piece,” he said. “The music is great. I don’t think the solo is the feature. The chorus is the feature, and the orchestra. It’s neat to be a part of it.”
It’s a storied bit of music. Mozart died, at 35, before finishing the piece commissioned by one Count von Walsegg. The composer wrote it while he was terminally ill and his body failing him. Thakar said this can be seen in the liturgical texts that Mozart based his composition on.
“Mozart chose the text that was begging and pleading. He was pleading for salvation. It’s very tender,” Thakar said. “He does touch on some moments of passion. The passion is his demands of God for salvation. When he gets to those parts, it’s almost a whimper.”
Mozart’s widow, Constanze, had it finished after his death because she needed the money and Wallsegg wouldn’t pay for an incomplete work. The completion is the version the DSSO will perform this weekend. Thakar said he would love to hear a performance of exactly what Mozart composed.
“It would not be artistically satisfying,” he admitted. “It would be a real curiosity.”
Soloists performing with Herfindahl include soprano Sarah Hibbard, mezzo soprano Jan Wilson, and tenor Eric Ashcraft.
Juan Jose Chuquisengo, a pianist from Peru via Munich, is the guest artist for the Schumann piece. Chuquisengo is an award-winning musician who has performed internationally. When he played Ravel’s “La Valse,” the Washington Post said: “(It) sounded more frightening than I have ever heard any orchestral version. … Furious throughout with electric energy. A most welcome combination of musicianship and urgent virtuosity. … An impressive recital.”
Go see it
What: Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra’s “Sublime Mozart”: Beethoven’s “Leonore Overture No. 3”; Schumann’s “Concerto for Piano in A Minor” (with guest artist Juan Jose Chuquisengo, piano); Mozart’s “Requiem” (featuring Sarah Hibbard, soprano; Jan Wilson, mezzo soprano; Eric Ashcraft, tenor; Nathan Herfindahl, baritone and the DSSO Chorus).
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Auditorium
Tickets: Start at $25. Call (218) 623-3776.
Also: The youth orchestra’s Fall Concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday at the DECC Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students.