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Front Page » December 2, 2004 » Local News » Performance of Handel's 'Messiah' scheduled Dec. 5 at Pri...
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Performance of Handel's 'Messiah' scheduled Dec. 5 at Price auditorium


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The 2004 performance of Handel's "Messiah" will be presented Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Price Civic Auditorium.

Under the direction of College of Eastern Utah music instructor Greg Benson, the performance will include a full orchestra with brass, woodwinds, strings and timpani.

"I first performed in 'Messiah' as a trombonist nearly 30 years ago and have done so many times since. But I have never before had the opportunity to conduct this monumental work," said Benson. "So I'm very much looking forward to leading the soloists, chorus and orchestra in this year's "Messiah." The audience will be treated to some spectacular sounds and sights."

The orchestra, consisting of people from the community as well as CEU, has been preparing for the performance for about a month. The choir and soloists have been practicing as long under the direction of Russell Wilson, who will also sing in the bass section of the choir.

"I've conducted the work more than 30 times, but this is the first time I get to actually sing it," said Wilson.

Nine soloists will highlight the performance, including Melissa Trowbridge, Joy Turnbow, Lisa Hansen, Tamlyn Weaver, Ben Jones, Grady McEvoy, Lila Jameson, Amber Denslow and Shea Bradshaw.

George Frideric Handel was born and trained in Germany, gained success in every aspect and genre of music while living in Italy and lived the last 50 years of his life in England.

Handel's "Messiah" was composed in London in 1741-1742 and debuted in Dublin on April 13, 1742 at the New Music rooms on Fishable Street in Dublin. It is Handel's best-known work.

The "Messiah" was not originally a Christmas tradition, but was intended to be a thought-provoker during Lent and for Easter.

Like most of Handel's work, the "Messiah" is based on the Bible.

One of Handel's associates, Charles Jennens, a literary scholar who spent his time editing Shakespeare's plays, fastidiously poured over the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and selected stories for Handel.

Jennens had admired Handel's music since 1725.

Handel was reluctant to put such a religious piece on the London stage and even had a hard time in Dublin where the government threatened to forbid singers in St. Patrick's Cathedral from taking part.

Handel compromised by running the piece under the name, "A Sacred Oratorio" to avoid charges of blasphemy.

Over the years, Handel was persuaded to make many changes so there is no definitive musical text for the "Messiah."

Many of the numbers within the piece were recomposed and many of the solos were changed for certain individuals performing them. Therefore, it can be difficult to figure out the real origins of the music and one of the rarest versions in modern performances is the version performed in Dublin in 1742.

The "Messiah" has been performed at locations throughout the world for the last 300 years.

The local production was started by Carbon High School music instructor Dorothy Brown.

Wilson, a student of Brown, continued to bring the masterpiece to the area when he returned to head the choir program at CEU.

After conducting the local presentation for many years, Wilson is singing with the choir, a position he occupied under Brown's direction more than three decades ago.

The 2004 production of the "Messiah" is free and open to the public.


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