While most of classical music’s big guns are saluting the bicentennial of Mozart’s death with revivals of his greatest hits, the Choral Ensemble of Chicago is paying tribute in a truer and more relevant fashion–by highlighting his more obscure works as well as his Masonic roots. Headlining this unusually thoughtful program is the cantata for male chorus and orchestra Laut verkundet uns’re Freude (“Let Us Loudly Proclaim Our Joy”), his last piece of music of any consequence (completed three weeks before his death) and a fitting farewell paean to his fellow Freemasons. The Masonic ethos–with its lofty morality, emphasis on benevolence, and secret symbols and rituals–underlies much of Mozart’s work from the last decade of his life. A famous example is, of course, The Magic Flute; what escapes attention nowadays are his explicitly Masonic works–the lodge songs and the funeral music, which are touching, noble, and profoundly spiritual. The Choral Ensemble will perform two lodge songs (both for solo tenor and male chorus). Also of interest to hard-core Mozart fans will be choral excerpts from the incidental music for the play Thamos, King of Egypt and “Parto, Parto,” an aria from his last opera, La Clemenza di Tito. The above-par choir will be under the direction of its longtime conductor George Esetevez. Among the soloists are soprano Patricia Anne Spencer, mezzo Bonita Suzanne Hyman, tenor Joseph Fosselman, and baritone Robert Smith. Dexter Bailey is the organist, Hilel Kagan the concertmaster. Sunday, 3:30 PM, Saint Paul’s United Church of Christ, 2335 N. Orchard; 935-3800.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lisa Kohler.