Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra, University Choir, Choral Union to Present Handel’s ‘Messiah’

Photo of the Southeast Symphony Orchestra and Choir Ensembles in concert.

The Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra, University Choir, and Choral Union will team up to present Handel’s “Messiah.”

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 19, 2007 — The Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra, University Choir, and Choral Union will team up to present one of the greatest choral works of all time, Handel’s “Messiah,” in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall on Southeast’s River Campus. 

This concert is presented as one of the 2007-2008 Symphony Series performances and will be performed on Friday, Dec. 7, with a repeat performance on the following evening, Dec. 8.  Both performances will start at 7:30 pm.

The “Messiah” concert will open with Joseph Haydn’s last, great symphonic work, his “London” Symphony No. 104.  Composed in 1795, during Haydn’s second trip to London, it was premiered on May 4, 1795, to resounding applause.  The “London” Symphony illustrates all of Haydn’s unique stylistic features: expressiveness, drama, lyricism and humor.  From the opening of the first movement, with its grand chords reminiscent of a Baroque overture, to the final movement, based on a rustic, Croatian folk song, this beautiful symphonic work shows Haydn at his most inspired and evocative.

For the second half of the concert, the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra will be joined by Southeast’s University Choir and Choral Union in a performance of the Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah.”  German-born Handel lived for most of his adult life in England, where he had an enormously successful career writing Italian operas for the opera-mad London upper middle class and aristocracy.  However, by the late 1730s, difficulties with funding lavish opera productions combined with the changing tastes of the English concert-goers effectively ended Handel’s career as an opera composer.  The eminent composer soon directed his energies to the production of oratorios, of which his “Messiah” is an early example.  Composed in 1741 and first performed in 1742, “Messiah” was enthusiastically received by its first audiences in Dublin.

The text of “Messiah” is drawn primarily from the Old Testament, with a few verses from the New Testament also included.  It recounts the story of the “Messiah,” the Savior, in choruses, orchestral interludes, and vocal recitatives and arias.  The music is thoroughly Baroque in style, with all the grandeur, drama, and rhythmic energy of the era.  It also has Handel’s special qualities of genius, evident not only in the beauty of the music and the structure, but also in the glorious choral writing and effective word-painting throughout.  “Messiah” is unique amongst all musical  compositions in that it has been performed repeatedly every year since its first performance 265 years ago, and it continues to inspire listeners in each new generation.  To celebrate the premiere season of performances at the Bedell Hall on Southeast’s River Campus, Southeast’s Symphony Orchestra and choral programs are pleased to present these two glorious, hallmark compositions.

Haydn’s “London” Symphony will be conducted by Sara Edgerton; Handel’s “Messiah” will be conducted by Steven Hendricks. Vocal soloists in the “Messiah” will be Lori Shaffer, soprano, Leslie Jones, contralto, Christopher Goeke, tenor, and Thomas Lowery, baritone. 

Tickets for the two performances are now available and can be purchased by calling the River Campus Box Office at (573) 651-2265; tickets will also be available at the door (subject to seating capacity).  Patrons are encouraged to reserve their tickets by calling the Box Office in advance.