In honor of the Feast of the Ascension, the St. Catherine Choir will be singing a portion of the Mass in C by Sigismund von Neukomm at the 12n Mass on Thursday, 5 May and at the 10a and 12n Masses on Sunday, 8 May. There are 28 students in the choir, and they will be singing the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.
An Austrian born composer, organist and conductor, Sigismund von Neukomm (1778-1858) studied keyboard under brother composers Johann Michael and Franz Joseph Haydn. At age fourteen, Neukomm became the honorary organist at the University of Salzburg church, and a few years later also became the chorus master of the Salzburg court theatre. He moved to Vienna in 1797 and taught piano and voice lessons for several years, including teaching two of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s children. In 1804 Neukomm left Vienna and traveled extensively for the rest of his musical career, living in cities throughout all of Europe, Russia, as well as several countries in Africa and South America. He continued to compose numerous works, and befriended many notable composers, including Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann.
Neukomm was a prolific composer, writing over 200 songs, ten operas, 8 oratorios, and 48 masses. He penned his Mass in C while traveling and performing the music of Haydn and Mozart in Brazil, and is thought to have composed it for the Archduchess of Austria, Leopoldine, the daughter of Emperor Franz I. Written for 2 voices, it is one of his many shorter masses composed in the style of the classical period, with momentary leanings towards the romantic era.