When Dudamel’s Mozart became a bold witness for Christ

Dudamel conducting Mozart's Requiem August 24, 2017 at the Hollywood Bowl, with words translated

By Mark Ellis

On a balmy August evening at the Hollywood Bowl – a storied venue filled to the brim with people of many faiths and no faith – Conductor Gustavo Dudamel became an evangelist of sorts as Mozart’s Requiem turned into a megaphone for God’s truth.

It was a rare family excursion to the Bowl for my family on August 24th and our first encounter with Venezuela-born Dudamel, 36, described by L.A. Times Music Critic Mark Swed as “the most accomplished musician of his generation.”

We arrived early, bought picnic dinners, and happened to sit at a table with two Jewish couples that were bright and engaging, steeped in L.A. culture. One of the couples emigrated from Iran during the revolution.

As we sat talking before the performance began, I wondered to myself how it might be possible to plant a seed of truth in their hearts. Little did I know the answer would come soon in an unexpected way.

In 1791, Mozart received a substantial commission for a requiem Mass from a wealthy count, Franz von Walsegg. Sadly, Mozart died before he could complete the Mass, but it contains notes scrawled with his own hands during the week he passed into eternity.

Overall, Mozart wrote 60 sacred works. This was his final, sanctified masterpiece and – I was soon to discover – a “last testament” and powerful witness of his faith in Jesus Christ.

In addition to Dudamel conducting the L.A. Philharmonic, he also had the accompaniment of the Los Angeles Master Choral singing in Latin. Since most of the audience does not speak Latin, the English translation was projected largely for all to see.

Here are the words emblazoned for the audience:

Introitus (Intro)

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,

and may perpetual light shine on them.

Thou, O God, art praised in Zion,

and unto Thee shall the vow

be performed in Jerusalem.

Hear my prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come.

Grant them eternal rest, 0 Lord,

and may perpetual light shine on them.

Kyrie (Lord)

Lord have mercy upon us.

Christ have mercy upon us.

Lord have mercy upon us.

Sequentia (Sequence)

Day of wrath, that day

Will dissolve the earth in ashes

As David and the Sibyl bear witness.

What dread there will be

When the Judge shall come

To judge all things strictly.

A trumpet, spreading a wondrous sound

Through the graves of all lands,

Will drive mankind before the throne.

MORE

The Christian Post