Young Musical Conductor Michael Hudlin tackles Mozart

Friday 26th March will mark the Trinidad and Tobago premiere of a religious mass entitled the Missa Brevis. It’s debut will be part of “For Faith and Music: A Mass for the People”, a concert under the baton of Michael Hudlin, which will be held at the All Saints’ Anglican Church in Port of Spain, starting at 8PM.

This mass, ‘Missa Brevis’, was composed by the world-famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was described in the Guardian UK publication with this quote by Albert Einstein: “as an artist, or a musician, Mozart was not a man of this world”. The article went on to highlight the number of musical feats Mozart mastered at a young age including a minuet and trio written on the piano in half an hour at just four years old and his first opera written at the age of 12. 

At 18 years old, Mozart wrote the ‘Missa Brevis’. This is only a few years younger than Trinbagonian musical director Michael Hudlin, who has had his own record of remarkable achievements through his youth as a conductor, composer and vocal baritone.

As a passionate, driven, and engaging musician, Michael Hudlin built his career in the field of classical and orchestral music from a very young age as well. He began composing at age 14, with his first major musical piece, a “Gloria”, written at age 16. He wrote the Gloria for his Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination while at Presentation College, San Fernando, and later premiered it at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) as both his University of the West Indies (UWI) graduation recital, as well as a fundraiser for his studies toward a Bachelor of Arts in Music at SUNY Plattsburg in 2016. Just before heading off to Plattsburg at 19, he began writing a “Requiem”, a massive undertaking with multiple movements and parts, which will be premiered in the future.

Education has been his primary focus thus far, with him attaining his Bachelor of Arts in Music at age 21.Now at 23, “For Faith and Music: A Mass for the People” will be his final recital concert required before completing his Master of Music in Conducting – Choral, from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

The essence of this musical endeavor will be to present a religious mass expressed with all the eloquence and passion of its master composer, Mozart. Over two hundred and forty years after having penned this mass, Mozart might be delighted to know that his music endures to be performed, accompanied by steelpan instruments invented in the 20th century and sung by a choral ensemble of Caribbean voices.

Michael Hudlin conducting a small chorus for “And On Earth Peace”, Christmas 2020 at the Pro-Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando | Photo credit: Ms. Jael Dirpaul

Hudlin intends to share in an intimate setting at the church, his deep appreciation for the young composer’s work, and to continue the long legacy of demonstrating the suitability of Caribbean instruments and voices to the genre of Classical music.

“Mozart’s music has always been seen as simple and beautiful; indeed, it is,” remarked Hudlin in a phone interview. “However, I believe that there is a deeper plane or layer that we need to discover. Even though the Missa Brevis is a mass, each movement has its own character and affect, and our job as performing arts professionals, is to make these hidden, contextual layers a little more obvious to the audience, or to bring it to the foreground.”

Mozart’s Missa Brevis will be a 25-minute religious Mass, along with other choral and solo features from composers such as Handel and Kirchner. Selections from the Caribbean folk song tradition will also be featured in a series of solos, representing songs of the community and village life, alongside which religious music often co-exists in the Caribbean.

Creatively, Hudlin has found incredible fulfillment in finding his unique style in choral music. He strives to merge his Caribbean identity with the idioms of Western traditions to find his own voice in the modern world of Classical music. 

In Classical music, choral music is sung by an ensemble of singers or a choir and may be based on religious or liturgical text that forms a part of church masses or prayer. This concert recital will feature a small chorus of award-winning and noted Trinbagonian vocalists including, Sopranos: Aniya Carty and Samantha Stanislaus, Contraltos: Jendayi Toussaint and Janine Charles-Farray, Tenors: Edward Cumberbatch and Carl-Anthony Hines, and Baritone/Basses: Mark Anthony Peter and Daniel De Cranie-Pierre. Special solo performances will be presented by Tenor Jamel Williams and Soprano Tiana Chandler.

Seating for this concert recital will be limited at All Saints’ Anglican Church due to Covid-19 public health protocols, with “For Faith and Music: A Mass for the People” tickets available by calling (Central/South) 710-9436, (East) 268-9556, (Port-of-Spain) 295-7435. For more details visit, Facebook search: @ChandelierTheatreProductions, or on Instagram: @productionschandelier.

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