We will perform the remarkable, influential, and almost-never-performed Grande Messe de Morts by the French composer François-Joseph Gossec, who lived a long and eventful life from 1734 to 1829. We can find no record of Gossec's Grande Messe de Morts having been performed in the United States since 1977, and yet this is a piece that made Gossec famous in France literally overnight. Mozart (very artfully) stole from Gossec in his famous Requiem composed in 1791 (Mozart and Gossec were friends), and Berlioz clearly had Gossec's thrilling brass writing in the "Tuba Mirum" section in his ear 77 years later when he wrote his famous Grande Messe de Morts in 1837.
Gossec always had a taste for the revolutionary, both musically and politically, and became one of the most important classical music figures in the French Revolution. For example, he scored his Te Deum for 1200 singers and 300 wind instruments, and several oratorios require the physical separation of multiple choirs, including invisible ones behind the stage. He wrote several works in honor of the French Revolution including Le Triomphe de la République, and L'Offrande à la Liberté.