THE SLOVAK Philharmonic offered several concerts to mark Easter this year, and one of them was a symphonic/vocal cycle that combined Joseph Haydn’s Mourning Symphony in E-Minor and Gioacchino Rossini’s Stabat Mater.

The concert on April 10 and 11 was conducted by Austrian Christoph Campestrini, who graduated from the Juilliard School and Yale.

“I have worked with the Slovak Philharmonic repeatedly before, most recently with the chorus and orchestra of the Slovak Philharmonic in the Opening Concert of the Carinthian Summer Festival in Austria with Mahler,” Campestrini wrote for The Slovak Spectator.

“This programme in April was my eighth project with the orchestra and I am always enjoying very much working with them,” he said.

On his collaboration with the Bratislava-based musical body and soloists Eva Hor-nyáková, Eva Garajová, Oto-kar Klein and Gustáv Belá-ček, he said, “it is always an extreme pleasure for me to work with these musicians. They are a wonderful orchestra and the new generation of musicians that has joined the orchestra recently has further enhanced their quality. To work with the chorus is a great privilege as well. I love their beautiful Slavic voices and high level of excellence. Yes, we are planning future projects in our collaboration.”

As for the selection of works for the Easter events, the conductor explained: “The works performed are usually chosen in cooperation between the orchestra and the performing artists. In this case, there was a strong connection between the Easter season and the liturgical words of the Stabat Mater by Rossini. The Mourning Symphony Nr.44 by Haydn was also a reflection of the text in the Stabat Mater.”

He continued, “I personally love programmes with a strong spiritual context very much, and I felt in the performances that this spirit of reflection and meditation of the Easter season embedded in the gorgeous music of Rossini and Haydn carried over to the audience as well.”

The performance was a successful fusion of the Austrian conductor and Slovak musicians. For some in the audience this might even have been the spiritual highlight of the whole Easter period. It also evoked hopes for further collaboration and more musical delights to come.