San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Glorious voices lift heaven-ward in the San Miguel premiere of Michael Hoppé’s ‘Requiem for Peace and Reconciliation’

Michael and Monica Hoppé watch the performance of his “Requiem for Peace and Reconciliation.” on Wednesday afternoon in the Templo de la Tercera Orden in Centro.

“You know, I haven’t even heard it yet. I’m as clueless as everyone else today! I don’t know what to expect.”

The speaker on Wednesday afternoon was Michael Hoppé and the occasion was the San Miguel de Allende premiere of his sonorous and introspective Latin Mass for chorus and strings, “Requiem for Peace and Reconciliation.”

The perfect music for Dia de Muertos and these very troubled times.

From left, composer Michael Hoppé, director Mauro Ledesma, and Monica Hoppé after the San Miguel premiere performance of Requiem for Peace and Reconciliation.”

If the composer betrayed a slight air of nervousness, that is truly understandable. This is, after all, his hometown now and the composition is one of his finest achievements. A lot was on the line, artistically speaking.

Which is saying a lot.

Michael Hoppé has a stunning resume of compositions and albums. His music is heard in films and TV programs like “The Sopranos,” and performed by the Prague Symphony, and sung by Vangelis, Eliza Gilkyson, and many others. As a senior executive at PolyGram Records, he was instrumental in signing The Who, Kitaro, Vangelis, ABBA, and others.

“Peace and Reconciliation” was recorded in 2020 by the Sedona Academy of Chamber Singers with the Tetra String Quartet.

This Requiem performance in San Miguel was actually nearly four years in the making, delayed as so many things were by Covid and the lockdown.

But on Wednesday, the voices of Chorale San Miguel, Coro Ópera Guanajuato, and Coro de Ópera de San Miguel merged some 40-plus strong to give the Requiem a stunning debut under the direction of Mauro Ledesma. Lifting the voices in a heavenly trajectory was a string quartet and at the organ, Malcolm Halliday.

The performance was in the uncharacteristically spare (for a Mexican church) Templo de la Tercera Orden, at the corner of San Francico and Juarez in Centro. In truth, its lack of architectural filigree and ornamentation, minimal statuary, and soaring ceiling make it an acoustic treasure. Very much like St. Paul’s Anglican Church on El Cordo, a prized venue for musical performances.

The temple lets voices — both human and instrumental — soar effortlessly and blend in harmony. It is the kind of place flutist Paul Horn enjoyed hurling crisply formed notes up into the high reaches, then played against them as they returned intact.

The combined choruses made good use of the space as the various voices were crisply separated — enabling tenors, sopranos, contraltos, and basses to each enjoy their subtlest moments of expression. It felt more like a lyrical conversation with God than a performance.

For Michael and his wife, Monica, I think the moment of conviction came during the third section of the Mass, the Sanctus with its uplifting hosannas and complete surrender of Heaven and Earth to the Deity. The music swells the chests of listeners with overwhelming optimism.

As the ensemble sang “Hosanna in Excelsis,” Monica turned to Michael and lightly touched his arm. He turned to her and they both nodded and smiled ever so slightly, the affirmative communication of a lifetime together.

“This is it,” they seemed to say. “They’ve done it.”

And they did.

Michael Hoppé thanks the audience while Mauro Ledesma (in black suit) acknowledges the performers. Facing Ledesma is Malcolm Halliday, another essential principal in this collaboration.

Throughout the standing and enthusiastic ovation, after director Mauro Ledesma lowered his arms, Michael Hoppé — the first person to his feet — was cheering the director, the ensemble, and the musicians, as they were cheering him. He turned appreciatively to the audience with a brilliant smile and bowed with hands clasped.

Moments after the entire concert ended another member of the audience beat me to the side of Michael to ask THE question.

His answer said it all: “It blew my mind!”

Later, when reflecting on the moment, Mauro Ledesma said, “To have the composer sitting there as we performed was incredible. I’ve done Mozart’s “Requiem” a couple of times but obviously, he isn’t around to appreciate it. This is so special.”

And, they got to do it all over again at 5 p.m., presumably before another full and fully appreciative house.

Michael Hoppé’s “Peace and Reconciliation” was bookended by a number of performances.

Under the direction of Edith Mora from Coro Ópera Guanajuato, the choral performed pieces from Spanish and Mexican composers Hernando Franco, Francisco Lopez Capillas, and Pablo Casals. After the “Requiem,” Malcolm Halliday led the chorals and musicians while Mauro Ledesma played piano, through two pieces, one based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and the other on Dylan Thomas’s “And Death Shall Have No Dominion.”

For an event informed and inspired by Dia de Muertos, this was the most uplifting and life-affirming afternoon that I can recall in ages. One for the ages, you might say.

I should add that the concerts were a benefit for Chorale San Miguel and especially for director Malcolm Halliday’s vision to install an 1875 Johnson & Sons pipe organ in the Templo de la Tercera Orden. Yesterday’s well-attended performances brought that dream a bit closer to reality. Want to help? Contact Malcolm at


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7 thoughts on “Glorious voices lift heaven-ward in the San Miguel premiere of Michael Hoppé’s ‘Requiem for Peace and Reconciliation’

  1. Thank you, Robert!
    It was a wonderful evening, and I will never forget the deeply felt performances
    conducted by Mauro
    Ledesma, and performed so movingly by the chorus and musicians. Huge thanks to all concerned, from this grateful composer!


    • One is not scheduled, Jana. Right now, I believe, the Chorale San Miguel is preparing for its annual Christmas program. If enough people express their enthusiasm to the director Malcolm Halliday, who knows what might happen.


  2. Dede Whiteside says:

    Again! Again! How fortunate we all were to witness such a splendid performance of Michael Hoppé’s “Peace and Reconciliation” ~ a beautiful composition rendered with skill and heart by Mauro Ledesma, Malcolm Halliday and the Choral de San Miguel. Let’s support these efforts to build our Choral and the installation of a remarkable renovated organ!


  3. Thank you Robert for the kind words. I should add the sense of gratitude I have that the chorale was able to return to life after the pandemic and a financially disastrous rained-out Christmas concert a year ago. To be able to crown the concert with the premiere of our very own Michael Hoppé made it even sweeter of course!


    • I can’t imagine the challenges of putting together an event like this, let alone facing weather and pandemics! May the future be all about the music and the pleasure of full houses and appreciative audiences!


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