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


The Southeast Missouri Symphony will join forces with the University Choir and Choral Union to perform Handel’s famous oratorio, “Messiah,” on Tuesday, Nov. 27 in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University.

The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Also on the program will be Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 104, the “London” Symphony. The conductors for this concert will be Southeast faculty members Sara Edgerton (Haydn) and Barbara Lamont (Handel). Vocal soloists will be faculty members Lori Shaffer, Leslie Jones, Chris Goeke and Timothy Schmidt.

The concert will open with the great Austrian composer Haydn’s Symphony No. 104, the “London” Symphony.  Haydn wrote this symphony in 1795 during his second trip to London, and it was premiered with great success in London on May 4, 1795. Haydn is known as the “Father of the Symphony,” and he wrote over 100 symphonies throughout his lifetime.  He popularized this form of music and aided greatly in the development of the symphony as a genre, enriching the emotional content, adding new instrumental timbres to the orchestra, and increasing the length and appeal of this art form.  Subsequent composers, especially Mozart and Beethoven, were strongly influenced and inspired by Haydn’s symphonies.

Haydn’s Symphony No. 104, the “London” Symphony, in essence sums up Haydn’s creativity and genius in this genre.  Each of the four substantial movements has beautiful melodies, colorful use of the orchestral instruments and eloquent expression.  The majestic opening chords of the first movement hearken back to the Baroque Overture; the agitated contrasts in the slow second movement are reminiscent of Haydn’s fiery “Sturm und Drang” (“Storm and Stress”) period.  The energetic third movement with strong rhythmic accents is almost Beethoven-like in character; and the final movement, with its rustic drones and folk dances, is a reminder of the engaging folk-music influence that was so important to Haydn.

The second half of the program will feature a performance of Part One (the Christmas portion) of Handel’s great oratorio, “Messiah.”  Composed by the pre-eminent Baroque composer Georg Frideric Handel in 1741, and first performed in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742, the “Messiah” is a work for orchestra, chorus and four vocal soloists.  This large-scale work depicts the Old Testament foretelling of the Messiah and the birth (Part I); the passion, death, and resurrection of the Messiah (Part II); and the promise of redemption (Part III).  The texts used in Messiah are drawn from the English Book of Common Prayer and from the King James’ version of the Bible.  This majestic work is rich in word-painting and has vibrant and expressive choruses and solo arias.  It rapidly gained popularity and has established itself as one of the most often performed compositions in music history.  In particular, Part I (the “Christmas” portion) has become strongly identified with the holiday season, and performances of this work are part of the seasonal tradition in many communities.

“We are looking forward very much to this upcoming concert in Bedell in late November,” said Edgerton, the conductor of the Southeast Missouri Symphony. “I think the two pieces on the program complement each other very well. Both pieces are very joyous and will uplift the audience’s spirits.  And, since both pieces are such significant masterpieces, they improve with age, and each performance adds new light and interest to the music. Come and join us in the beautiful Bedell Performance Hall for this concert, and start your holiday season off with inspiring music by Handel and Haydn!”


Tickets may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain Street, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265, or online at