Although many of the great classical music works were composed expressly for religious rituals, they are rarely performed in that context today. This is particularly true of full-scale renditions of the Roman Catholic Mass, which are far more likely to be heard in the concert hall than in a church.
But on Sunday evening at St. Cyril of Jerusalem Catholic Church in Encino, Beethoven's Mass in C will be presented in the manner in which it was intended.
"This is a religious work, after all, so we wanted to do it as an actual Mass," said William Beck, music director of St. Cyril's. "But it is a large undertaking for a church, to say the least."
The Mass, which is to be celebrated by the church's pastor, Rev. Monsignor Cyril Navin, will be performed by a 40-piece orchestra, a 50-member choir and four soloists, all to be conducted by Beck.
It was scheduled as part of the church's regular performing arts series, with an important difference. Although the cost of performing the work will be approximately $5,000 (most of which is for musicians' fees), the church will not be charging admission or asking those attending for the traditional "suggested donation."
"We can't," Beck said, "because this is being done as a religious service. It's free to anyone who wants to come." As in any regular service, however, the plate will be passed for free-will offerings.
Additional music will include the "Hallelujah" section of Beethoven's "Christ on the Mount of Olives" oratorio.
Beethoven's Mass in C will be celebrated at St. Cyril of Jerusalem Catholic Church, 15520 Ventura Blvd., Encino, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. For information, call (818) 986-8234.