Part I of “Handel’s Messiah” will be performed by the Jacksonville State University A Cappella Choir and the Calhoun County Civic Chorale Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels. Another composition by George Frederic Handel comes to light the next day at a performance of the Jacksonville State University/Community Orchestra.
‘Handel’s Messiah’ performed by area choirs and orchestra
This oratorio, a large-scale work composed for a chorus and vocal soloists, earned Handel a lasting place in the music world during his lifetime, according to “Music” by Frederic V. Grunfeld. “Both grand and meditative, the moving words and music project the drama of the Scriptures,” the text continues.
This is the fourth time Director Patricia Corbin’s choirs have performed “Messiah” since she joined the JSU music faculty in 1999.
“This is the most popular oratorio written by Handel and is beloved by singers and audience members alike,” Corbin said. “We always get a great turnout of singers when we do this work. It is important for our college singers, especially the soloists, to learn it because they will be called upon to sing it often throughout their performing years.”
The three-part oratorio, one of nearly 20 he wrote, details Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, respectively and was composed in just 24 days. Part I, the program for Nov.17, includes familiar Christmas selections such as “And the Glory of the Lord” and “Unto Us a Child Is Born,” both of which are among the Baroque composer’s most joyful music.
Performers include college students, JSU faculty and community members. Guest soloists are University of Montevallo faculty member and tenor Roderick George and JSU alumna mezzo soprano Judy Holt Shealy. The choirs will be accompanied by an orchestra of JSU students, faculty and professional string players from the Birmingham area, as well as Vicki Brock, organist at Parker Memorial Baptist Church. Other featured soloists include Pat Kirkland of Weaver, David Lawshe of Jacksonville, Debra Mantua of Rockville, Md., and Ellen Abney of Haralson, Ga.
Handel gave his first performance of “Messiah” in 1742 in Dublin as a benefit for people in debtors’ prisons. Normally, the concert hall held 600, but rehearsals attracted such widespread attention that an overflowing crowd was expected for the premiere — ladies were asked not to wear hoopskirts and men were asked to leave their swords at home.
St. Michael’s has been a favored venue for this work. The church’s construction goes back to 1888, and stained glass windows in the sanctuary celebrate Christ’s birth.
“There is something about the beautiful and historic architecture that creates a great atmosphere for this performance,” Corbin said.
Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5 for youth (ages 16 and under) and $4 for JSU students with IDs. Tickets may be purchased in person from the JSU Choral Activities office or at the door. Corbin expects the concert to sell out. For more information, contact the JSU Office of Choral Activities at 256-782-5544.
The JSU student chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) will be sponsoring a canned food drive at the concert to benefit the St. Michael’s Food Ministry. Audience members are asked to bring a donation of nonperishable food items.
Fall concert to feature music masters
Handel’s “Orchestra Concert No. 25” contributes greatly to the upbeat tone of the JSU/Community Orchestra’s Fall Concert lineup, to be held Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mason Hall Performance Center.
King George I of England must have liked Handel’s music, too, for in July 1717, he employed the composer for one evening performance, in which he directed a 50-musician orchestra floating down the Thames River alongside a barge carrying the King and his companions. The orchestra delivered “a spectacular performance,” it is recorded, from 8 p.m. until midnight — the JSU orchestra will play only a few movements from the piece.
According to director Mike Gagliardo, the program is audience-friendly, as a whole. The free event will include symphonies and concertos from the late Baroque to early Classical periods by Mozart, Scarlatti, Karl Friedrick Abel and Handel — music that was often heard in palaces and churches.
A different path to notoriety, was taken by Antonio Vivaldi, the redhead violin virtuoso who wrote “Symphony No. 3 in G,” which will also be heard Nov. 18. Vivaldi spent most of his life writing music for his students at an orphanage conservatory in Venice.
“We’ll be playing more Vivaldi in our spring concert,” said Gagliardo.