Handel’s ‘Messiah’ returns for Christmas season

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John Zoltek conducts the Glacier Symphony Orchestra and Chorale. (Courtesy photo)

This Christmas season the Glacier Symphony and Chorale will treat residents to three performances of Handel’s inspiring “Messiah.”

Performances take place in Bigfork, Whitefish and Kalispell and will feature the majestic sound of the 80-voice Glacier Chorale with Micah Hunter as conductor, accompanied by a chamber orchestra from the Symphony consisting of strings, oboes, bassoon, trumpets and timpani, Handel’s original orchestration. The three guest voice soloists include: soprano Emily Murdock, originally from Whitefish, now living in Colorado; tenor Derek Larson, currently from St. Regis and bass Brad Seaman, former Whitefish resident, Chorale member and soloist, currently living in Seattle.

Handel’s inspiring sacred English Language oratorio from the Baroque era was composed in 1741 and first given in Dublin in 1742. Developed during the Baroque era, the genre known as Oratorio is a name given to narrative sacred work (telling a story) composed for soloists, chorus and orchestra. Handel’s “Messiah” has been continually been performed since the mid-18th century and is today perhaps the most well-known and beloved of all sacred music for chorus and orchestra. Although the entire work is almost two-and-a-half hours long, the performances and many during the Christmas season focus on what had become known as the Christmas portion — parts of the work that refer to the prophecy and birth of the anointed one, Jesus Christ. Featured choruses include “Glory to God,” “And He Shall Purify,” “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” and many others including the rousing “Hallelujah.”

Solo selections will include “Ev’ry Valley,” “I Know That My Redeemer Livith,” “The Trumpet Shall Sound” and many others. These Messiah concerts will be conducted by Music Director John Zoltek.

“Handel’s Messiah is certainly something that needs to be experienced live in concert,” Zoltek said. “Its timely music directly expresses human aspirations towards the divine through sublime and powerful vocal and instrumental music. Even though the piece is over 270 years old, Handel masterfully captured and expressed the deepest spiritual qualities that, even today, communicate and inspire audiences and musicians alike around the globe.”

Although Handel is considered the most important English composer of the Late Baroque he was himself actually German. However, after arriving in London in 1712 to serve his employer, the new King George II, Handel, as a new composer eager to please his new audiences, quickly assimilated the tune structure and rhythmic identity of English popular and concert music. He then fused this new colloquial influence into his existing continental style and developed what we now experience as Handel’s wonderfully original, clear and refined musical language.

Handel’s music had a great influence on many great composers after him including Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Beethoven considered him to be the greatest composer who ever lived. His great contemporary J.S. Bach was also equally impressed and stated that Handel “is the only person I would wish to see before I die, and the only person I would wish to be, were I not Bach.”

Performances are Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Bigfork at Saint John Paul II Catholic Church, on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Whitefish at Christ Lutheran Church and on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. in Kalispell at Flathead High School.

For more information, call the Glacier Symphony Orchestra and Chorale Box Office at 406-407-7000 or email info@gscmusic.org or visit https://glaciersymphony.org

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