Denver church gives posthumous premiere of Richard Toensing piece

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Photo: Composer Richard Toensing.A Denver church on Friday will host the premiere of a new work by composer and University of Colorado composition professor Richard Toensing, who died in July.

Toensing, who taught at CU from 1973 to 2005 and wrote pieces influenced by Orthodox Christian traditional music, wrote Mass for Two Voices, Violin and Organ as a setting of the Latin Ordinary of the Mass.

An ensemble of his friends and former students will debut the piece at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Augustine’s Orthodox Church, 55 W. Third Avenue in Denver. The performance is free.

CPR Classical’s Charley Samson hosted three of the concert’s participants for a freewheeling discussion about the sound of Toensing’s Mass, its unusual textures, and Toensing’s prolific later years as a composer. Click the audio above to hear comments from Rt. Rev. Father John Mangels, pastor of St. Augustine’s Orthodox Church; conductor Richard Robertson; and violinist Alexandra Eddy.

“When we got this composition I opened it up and I thought, ‘Oh my, this is a major work’...” Mangels said. “We wanted to get it performed as soon as possible so (Toensing) could be there for the performance. Unfortunately, the Lord had other ideas.”

Robertson and Eddy will perform alongside Sarah Barber, mezzo-soprano; Adam Sattley, tenor; and Frank Slechta, organ.

Read Toensing’s obituary, or listen to the late composer discuss how it felt to hear his own music performed:

Audio: Composer Richard Toensing on hearing his own music performed