The year 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. On May 18 and 19, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (MCP) will celebrate her in its lively, upcoming concert titled Victoria’s Secret: A Life in Music.
What inspired you to create this production and release it at this date?
In doing some research for another project I came across several references to Queen Victoria and her love of music. This led me down the path to this concert. It seemed timely to do it now, as May 2019 would have been her 200th Birthday. At each concert we will have a lavish birthday celebration for her complete with designer cakes fit for a queen.
Says Mehaffey, “This show has been two years in the making and is truly a labor of love. In 2017, as we began to explore the history surrounding Queen Victoria, we learned she had consistent interactions with some of the greatest musicians of the 19th century and that her abiding love of music and generosity to the arts resulted in the creation of many significant compositions.”
Who are the several historical figures in Queen Victoria’s life that will be displayed?
Actor Bradley Greenwald with create and act out five distinct characters form Queen Victoria’s life. The characters impart to the audience historical accounts from the queen’s life and how it intersected with the music we will perform. These reflections are often comical, touching, or even biting criticism of the queen.
Characters include:His Royal Highness Albert, the Prince Consort, The Right Honourable William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, prime minister; Lt. Gen. The Honourable Sir Charles Grey, private secretary; Maj. Gen. The Right Honourable Sir Henry Ponsonby, private secretary; Lt. Col. Sir Arthur Bigge, private secretary.
“The result is a joyful celebration that brings Victorian musical history to life, with well known pieces such as Richard Wagner’s “Here Comes the Bride,” which was Victoria’s coronation music, as well as music by Johann Strauss, Cesar Frank and Arthur Sullivan, all of whom composed pieces for Victoria.”
What is Victoria’s secret?
Her life in music is the secret that most probably don’t know. She loved music and was one of the great supporters/benefactors of 19th century artist and musicians
“Actress Lisa Ann Goldsmith, who has appeared in “Love & Other Drugs,” “The Next Three Days” and “One for the Money,” will provide the voice of Victoria, conveying the queen’s personality through her own words, as penned in her diaries. Meanwhile, on stage, baritone and Ivey Award winner Bradley Greenwald will portray all five of Victoria’s private secretaries.”
Why do you feel performing her life through music instead of words and how do you feel this message will transcend better through sound than words?
I think the combination of the beautiful venues and the beautiful music will add another dimension of appreciation of her for the Audience. Think of it like a kind of virtual reality. Audience will here the actual words of Queen Victoria spoken, but they will never “see” the queen. The music provides a soundtrack that raises the senses to ethos of the era.
Matthew MehaffeyMusic Director, The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh
Victoria’s Secret: A Life in Music will be performed on May 18, 2019 (7:30 p.m.), at East Liberty Presbyterian Church in East Liberty, and on May 19, 2019 (3 p.m.), at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper Saint Clair. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.themendelssohn.org/concerts-and-tickets/current-season/.
And what is a birthday celebration without cake? Inspired by popular programs like “The Great British Baking Show” on PBS, MCP invites local bakeries to compete in a friendly bake-off whose winner will present a royal birthday cake to Queen Victoria at each concert. Interested bakers should contact Maggie Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Thurs., April 25, the public is invited to a preview event of Victoria’s Secret: A Life in Music, at Sharp Edge Bistro, 422 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222, downtown. The event is hosted by the MCP in collaboration with Britsburgh, a local social group that promotes and celebrates British-American culture in the Pittsburgh region. More information on this event can be found at themendelssohn.org or britsburgh.com.
Some facts about Victoria’s Secret: A Life in Music:
- The performances will take place immediately after the conclusion of the third season of “Victoria,” PBS’s popular drama about the queen.
- As Victoria and her husband, Albert, were both German, the show will feature several German composers.
- Irish folk music will accompany the telling of a dark period in Victoria’s reign: the Irish potato famine.
- Among the music included will be work by Mendelssohn Choir namesake Felix Mendelssohn, who was a confidant of Victoria and wrote music specifically for her and Albert to play together on the piano.