An architectural genius

The Southwest Minnesota Orchestra is performing a pair of concerts honoring French architect Emmanuel Masqueray, who designed the concert venues

Photo by Karin Elton The Southwest Minnesota Orchestra will perform two concerts to commemorate the work of architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, 1861-1917, who designed many Minnesota landmarks including the concert venues — the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Marshall and the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.


The beautiful architecture of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church will be celebrated next week — and the man behind the building.

The Southwest Minnesota Orchestra will perform “Building Minnesota: The Centennial Commemoration of Emmanuel Masqueray” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Marshall and at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25, will take place at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Masqueray was a French-American architect who designed landmark buildings, namely Holy Redeemer Catholic Church and the Cathedral of St. Paul.

The concert will honor Masqueray who was born in Dieppe, France, in 1861 and trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

SMO will perform an all-French concert, highlighting the music of the Belle Epoque, which will include Offenbach’s overture “Orpheus in the Underworld,” “Meditation on Thais” as well as the “Symphony #3 in C Major for Organ and Orchestra” by Camille Saint-Saens with special guest artist, cathedral organist Lawrence Lawyer and a cameo appearance by the Meadowlark Quartet.

Dr. Daniel Rieppel, SMO music director, said that the “Symphony #3” by Saint-Saens is a “very impressive piece — especially at the end. It was composed for a space like Holy Redeemer. The organ is so central to it. After Saint-Saens was finished writing the third symphony he said, ‘Everything I’ve got is in this.'”

Belle Epoque means “beautiful age.” It’s a name given in France “to the period from roughly the end of the Franco-Prussian War (1871) to the start of World War 1 (1914),” according to thoughtco.com. It was so called because the “standards of living and security for the upper and middle classes increased, leading to it retrospectively being labeled as a golden age.”

Mass entertainment was transformed by new styles of performance in the theater, by shorter forms of music and by the realism of modern writers.

“After the tumult of the Franco-Prussian War that ended in 1871, France saw the sweeping away of the regime of Napoleon III and the rise of the ‘Third Republic’ as well as living standards for many members of the middle and upper classes,” said Rieppel. “There was a general distrust of abstract notions of governing and indeed, as the new and ambitious German Empire amalgamated power and influence to its east, France was celebrating an easygoing sensuality, whether in art (Monet), music (Massenet and Offenbach) and literature (Baudelaire). Paris was also the home to the Moulin Rouge, which was the birthplace of the can-can and became an archetype for dancing halls and pleasure emporiums around the European continent.”

Masqueray immigrated to the United States in 1887 because he wanted to work for several prominent New York City practitioners, including Richard Morris Hunt and the firm of Carrère and Hastings. In 1901, he landed the influential job of chief draftsman of the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis, Missouri. The Exhibition was informally known as the St. Louis World’s Fair.

While working at the fair, Masqueray met Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, who was looking for an architect to design a cathedral for St. Paul and a basilica for Minneapolis.

“The Basilica of St. Mary’s in Minneapolis is the official site of the Masqueray Society and they host an annual Masqueray ball,” said Rieppel.

Rieppel said the cathedral and basilica are “astoundingly beautiful. The cathedral is the third largest in the country.”

Masqueray was 43 when he moved to St. Paul in 1905, and the city was his home base for the rest of his life. Among his designs were The Church of the Holy Redeemer in Marshall. The present classical, cruciform (having the shape of a cross) brick structure was completed in 1915. He designed several small churches in what is now the Diocese of New Ulm Including the Church of St. Edward in Minneota.

Rieppel said performing the concert at Holy Redeemer is a “high honor. I’ve always loved Holy Redeemer.”

Tickets for the Wednesday performance are $15 for adults. The concert is free for students with a school ID and children.


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