Adrian Symphony Orchestra Christmas Concert Presents “Messiah”
ADRIAN – Even though George Friderich Handel wrote “Messiah” without wanting it to be particularly tied to Easter or Christmas – although it happened to premiere at Easter – it has become a staple of the season over the years. of Christmas.
The Adrian Symphony Orchestra, joined by four soloists and a choir of singers from the Lenawee Community Chorus and the Adrian College Choir, makes its own contribution to this Christmas tradition with a performance of Handel’s masterpiece at 8 p.m. Saturday, December 11, at Adrian Auditorium Dawson College.
Tickets cost $ 32 / $ 29 / $ 21 for adults, $ 30 / $ 27 / $ 21 for seniors, and $ 18 / $ 15 for students, and are available online at adriansymphony.org; by calling 517-264-3121; at the ASO office at Mahan Hall, Adrian College; or at the door two hours before the performance.
The performance features soloists Sara Emerson, soprano; Kristin Boggs Clark, mezzo-soprano; Nicholas Music, tenor; and Ben Brady, bass baritone.
Boggs-Clark is president of the music department at Adrian College, while Emerson and Music have performed with ASO in recent seasons, Emerson as a soloist in Faure’s “Requiem” and Music in “Carmina Burana” from Orff.
Brady was a soloist in a performance of “Messiah” that ASO Music Director Bruce Anthony Kiesling conducted in California.
“His career is really taking off and I’m happy to introduce him to Adrian,” Kiesling said.
Handel’s greatest contribution to the oratorio form was written in 1741, using a libretto by his friend Charles Jennens, and was completed in just over three weeks, although he continued to revise parts of it long afterwards.
The German-born composer had been living in England for some 30 years when he wrote “Messiah”. He was well regarded in his early years in England as an Italian-language opera composer, but by the 1720s this particular art form was falling out of favor and was increasingly expensive to produce.
Oratorios became a way of telling Bible stories without the need for things like the elaborate costumes required for operas, and Handel wrote many of these works. “Messiah,” which premiered in Dublin, Ireland in April 1742, easily became the most enduring and popular of them.
Its premiere in London the following year is where the custom for the audience to stand for the “Hallelujah Chorus” originated. As the story goes, King George II was so moved by the music – or, maybe, he was just tired of sitting for so long at this point – that he stood up. And since everyone in the audience was supposed to do what the king did, why, everyone stood up too, and a tradition was born.
The three-part structure of the oratorio begins with the anticipation of Christ’s birth found in the Advent season, progresses to his crucifixion and resurrection, and ends with Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death. dead. From the libretto, which is taken from the Bible and the Psalter with a few made-up passages, “Handel wrote a very moving story, and he does a masterful job with the music,” Kiesling said.
The original score was written for a relative handful of singers and instrumentalists and was performed often at Easter and Christmas. Over time, however, it has generally become a Christmas production – and the forces running it have often grown quite massive. Mozart re-orchestrated the work in 1789, and it is this version that is performed when greater instrumental forces are used.
Such huge performances give “Messiah”, of course, real weight and muscle. But by presenting it in a way more in keeping with Handel’s intention – and closer to how the ASO and its vocal partners will play it, with a smaller orchestra than is usually on the Dawson stage and a choir of just over 50 singers – “it sounds lighter and softer,” Kiesling said.
Saturday’s performance follows the traditional Christmas production format of the work, using the first part, the so-called “Christmas” section, with the addition of “The Trumpet Shall Sound” from the third part and, of course, the “Hallelujah Chorus”, which is actually near the end of Part 2 but without which no production of “Messiah” would be complete.
Presenting Handel’s largest composition represents a change for ASO from the holiday concerts of recent years, which focused on pop music. “Messiah” was actually scheduled for last year, until the pandemic forced the season to be canceled because “we thought it would be fun to have some variety” in the holiday gig, said Kiesling said.
Deciding to get the job done this season required making sure it could be done in a way that was safe for everyone involved, given the early pandemic concerns about vocals and blowing on some instruments.
“But we think we can certainly do this repertoire in a safe way,” he said.
“And I think we all need this music to make us feel better.”
If you are going to
WHAT: Handel’s “Messiah” performed by the Adrian Symphony Orchestra
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, December 11
O: Dawson Auditorium, Adrian College
TICKETS: $ 32 / $ 29 / $ 21 for adults, $ 30 / $ 27 / $ 21 for seniors, $ 18 / $ 15 for students
HOW TO ORDER: Online at adriansymphony.org; by calling 517-264-3121; at the ASO office at Mahan Hall, Adrian College; at the door starting two hours before the performance