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October 23, 2013

Blinn College returns ‘Lord Nelson Mass’ to Brenham

Brenham Chorale performs 205-year-old concert Oct. 27-28

Brenham Chorale Director Joel Plaag first brought a taste of the 1700s to Brenham in 2001 with Franz Joseph Hadyn’s “Lord Nelson Mass.” Now, 12 years later, Plaag is once more bringing one of Hadyn’s most popular concerts back to Brenham.

The Brenham Chorale, Blinn College Choral Union and members of the Brazos Valley Symphony will present “Lord Nelson Mass” Oct. 27-28 at the Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center on the College’s Brenham campus.

“The idea for me is to always perform major works you wouldn’t otherwise hear in Brenham,” Plaag said.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and must be purchased at the door. Performances will be at 4 p.m. Oct. 27 and 7 p.m. Oct. 28. Reservations can be made with the Box Office at 979-830-4024 or

The 205-year-old concert is presented solely in Latin, the native tongue for all masses in Europe during the 1700s. A translation will be provided for the audience in the concert’s program.
More than 60 performers will take part, including community members, more than 30 Blinn College students and professional soloists, including:

  • soprano Annamarie Zmolek, voice instructor at Prairie View A&M.
  • alto Lauren Shelton, voice instructor at Blinn College.
  • tenor Chris Hoffman, choir director at Blinn College – Bryan.
  • bass Richard Files, professional singer from Houston.

The opening piece involves a very demanding soprano solo –– it’s very difficult,” Plaag said. “Not a whole lot of people have the talent to perform that solo, but Annamarie Zmolek is one of those few.”

Originally written in 1798, the mass is reminiscent of the times when the citizens of Vienna feared an attack by the French, led by Napoleon Bonaparte. The mass earned its name after Admiral Horatio Nelson’s surprising defeat over the French armada at the battle of Trafalgar.

“It has a very dark sound, and during one of the sections it sounds like they’re marching off to war,” Plaag said. “It’s a scary, brilliant sound.”

The Brenham Chorale is hosted by Blinn’s Division of Fine Arts but is not limited to students. The Chorale has brought choral music to Brenham since 1974 and previously performed “Mozart’s Requiem” under Plaag’s direction at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The chorale is open to residents from across the Brazos Valley and membership is free from fees or dues.