Handel’s ‘Messiah’ returns with twistWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Messiah” composed by George Frederic Handel is a Toledo holiday tradition that has been performed locally since 1919.
Handel’s Messiah will be performed by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the combined choruses of the Toledo Choral Society and BGSU at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Peristyle on Dec. 5 and 6. More than 200 singers and nearly 100 musicians will perform the famous oratorio before an expected sell-out audience of 1,750 people.
Tickets for the popular performances at $25 and $30 each would make ideal gifts for classical music lovers. Discounted tickets are available for groups of 10 or more and student tickets for $10 each.
People attending Messiah this year will hear a slightly different version than in the past. The symphony wants to perform the original orchestration Handel composed, rather than the newer and more familiar Mozart edition of it, according to Sam Szor, who has conducted the holiday production for more than 50 years.
“We’ll treat it artistically and are adding some choruses that are not usually heard,” said Sam, music director and conductor of the Toledo Choral Society. “Unlike many operas, it’s all in English, so people can understand the scriptures from the Bible.”
Sam said that Handel performed the original oratorio playing the harpsichord with a smaller orchestra that did not include clarinets, flutes or French horns. His son, Tom Szor, will play the harpsichord for the local performances.
Sam will conduct the Dec. 6 performance at 2 p.m. in the Peristyle. Mark Munson, conductor of the BGSU Chorus, will conduct the performance on Dec. 2 at Kobacker Hall in Bowling Green and Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in the Peristyle.
Soloists for the performance of Messiah at the Peristyle include John Glann, bass; Joe Diehl, tenor; Catherine McKeever, mezzo soprano, and Peggy Dwyer, soprano.
Messiah is an oratorio, or opera without the staging, that tells the story of the prophecy, birth, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus from scriptures of the Old and New Testament of the King James Version of the Bible.
Messiah includes the highly recognized “Hallelujah” and “Great Amen” choruses that are among the best know choral selections ever performed, according to music historians.
Part one includes the prophecy of the coming of the messiah through the birth of Jesus. The overture, written in a minor key, depicts the gravity of the world waiting for the birth of its Savior.
Part two presents the suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus, but concludes with the triumphant Hallelujah chorus and his resurrection.
Part three is reflective on the life of Jesus and a celebration of his overcoming death with a glorious homage to Him with the appropriate “Amen” chorus.
The premiere of Messiah was performed by Handel in Dublin, Ireland on Good Friday, April 13, 1742. He conducted the piece annually at Easter. His last performance was at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, a little more than a week before his death on Good Friday, April 14, 1759, the 17th anniversary of its premiere.
The Toledo Choral Society is the area’s oldest continuous musical organization founded in 1919 when the first local performance of Messiah was presented in the Scott High School Auditorium. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra has been performing for 65 years.
Tickets for Messiah are for sale by calling the Toledo Symphony box office at (419) 246-8000 or ordering online at www.toledosymphony.com/ordertickets. For group tickets, call (419) 418-0024.