Born in New Hampshire after the Civil War, Amy Marcy Cheney made her debut as a piano prodigy in 1885, the same year she married and took the last name Beach. In 1892, Boston saw the first performance (at age 25) of her Grand Mass in E-flat. Many notable compositions followed, including the first major symphony by an American female composer. She died in 1944 and is now known simply as Amy Beach, the doyenne of American women composers.
Beach's rarely-heard Mass is an ample, richly harmonized score that recalls the choral works of Mendelssohn or Brahms. The Rochester Oratorio Society, under Eric Townell, joined by Concentus Women's Choir (Gwendolyn Gassler, director) and the Young Women's College Prep Charter School Choir, lifts the curtain on this worthwhile work this Friday. Soloists Elena O'Connor and Katie Hannigan will be featured. The concert observes the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in New York State, and will include an address by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.
Rochester Oratorio Society will perform Amy Beach's "Grand Mass" on Friday, October 20, at Hochstein Performance Hall, 50 North Plymouth Avenue. 7:30 p.m. $25. 473-2234; grandeur.brownpapertickets.com.