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Marshall University Music Department Presents Messiah, An Oratorio by George Frideric Handel, Marshall University Choral Union, Marshall University Chamber Choir, Marshall University Chorus, Marshall University Symphony Orchestra, Robert Wray, conductor
All Performances
  • Robert Wray, Marshall University
  • David Castleberry, Marshall University
  • Elizabeth Reed Smith, Marshall University
Publication Date
12-2-2014
Year of Release
2014
Note(s)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 3:00 p.m.

Katelyn Beaver, Laura Nichole Campbell, Mycah Pemberton, Taylor Isaacs, soprano

Aurelia Ward, Hillary Herold, Dominique Sears, alto

Michael Rose, Sean Price, tenor

Josh Stewart, Matt Jarvis, bass

Martin Saunders, trumpet

Program Notes

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was born to an affluent German household. Due to his general restlessness and sense of independence, Handel never remained attached to a patron or church for long. In his early career, Handel wrote opera and performed in the Oper am Gänsemarkt (a Hamburg theater). When he was 21, Handel moved to Italy to compose for the Medici family in Florence. Within the year, he moved into the Papal States to write vocal and instrumental works for Cardinals until 1710, when he became the chapel director to the German Prince George (who would later become King George of Britain) in Hanover, Germany. Two years later, he had permanently moved to England. Handel's large, imposing figure came from his personal indulgences, to the point of gluttony (the Artist Joseph Goopy complained about meager meals in the Handel household, while his host would sneak off to another room eating and drinking without him). He was not necessarily greedy, however, as Handel donated a significant portion of his fortunes, to debtors prisons, the ill, orphans, and to retired musicians.

Handel was quite content with writing music to his liking; in his life he wrote in almost every genre that was current, created three opera companies, and wrote more than 40 operas. The downfall of Handel's opera career came in the 1730s; The Smithsonian attributes it to, "the emotional and financial toll of producing operas, as well as changing audience tastes, contributed to Handel's growing interest in sacred oratorios-which required neither elaborate scenery nor foreign stars including, eventually, Messiah." -Jacob Bird, Marshall University

An oratorio began as an unstaged, Italian-texted musical setting of a biblical subject or story that shares the dramatic, narrative, and musical aspects of Opera. Oratorios can be viewed as a 17th-century development of Renaissance dialogue motets and sacred dialogues, sacred genres based on biblical narratives with chorus commentary. Sacred dialogues were not originally performed during regular Mass. Instead, the genre was performed during evening sermon assemblies of religious confraternities, such as the Fathers of Oratory of St. Philip Neri, for the moral and spiritual education of laymen and boys. As opera rose in popularity during the mid-1600s, sacred dialogues began adopting operatic recitative style, without metrical rhythm or a rhyme scheme, for dialogue and lyrical arias for moments of reflection and heightened emotional expression. The genre spread as the Oratorian Fathers established congregations throughout Italy, and between the years 1680-1730 oratories in nearly every major Italian city and many Catholic centers in Northern Europe were producing these works.

Italian oratorios after 1680 typically featured 3 to 6 solo voices with full string orchestral accompaniment, occasionally including winds. Additionally, libretto texts for oratorios began to resemble opera's with more unified plots, fewer character, and 'scenes.' In England, oratorios were a relatively late development and Handel's works are some of the first. Unique to Handel's oratorios was a three-act dramatic structure with concerto interludes between 'acts,' the inclusion and prominence of a large scale chorus, and performance in concert halls or theaters as opposed to the small church settings of Italian oratorios. Handel's oratorios were monumentally successful and essentially acted as a substitute for opera, which he eventually gave up in favor of these large scale works. Tonight's work, Messiah HWV. 56, remains Handel's best known work in the genre and has enjoyed repeat performances since its modest premier in 1742. Jacob Somers, Marshall University

Handel's Messiah was composed in London and had its premiere performance in Dublin at the height of the Lenten Season. Handel wrote this oratorio for the simpler tastes of his English audiences. Therefore, unlike standard Baroque oratorios, the soloists of Handel's Messiah do not depict any specific character within the narration. Text for the Messiah was compiled by Charles Jennens from various scriptures of the King James Bible, particularly from the "Book of lsaiah" and the Book of Common Prayer (1662); the verses of text were arranged to assert Jesus Christ as the true Messiah. The work itself is separated into three 'acts' that tell the Biblical story: prophecy, persecution and redemption. As the story of Jesus' mission was the primary focus of the oratorio, Handel used various compositional techniques to heighten the relationship between the text and music. For example, in the first tenor aria, "Every Valley shall be exalted," Handel used word painting throughout to strengthen the meaning of the text through music. For example, ascending leaps up to the word "mountain" and the upper-neighbor tone on the word "hill" represent the differences in physical height while embodying the vastness of the landscape. The alternation between two pitches on the word "crooked" contrast with "straight," which is sung on a single pitch is another example of this convention. Handel solidified the religious context of his work through the incorporation of plagal cadences; the association of the plagal cadence with the final "Amen" of protestant hymns reinforced the religious message. The "Hallelujah" chorus found at the close of the second 'act' is the most famous chorus within the entire oratorio. Handel concludes this grand chorus with a plagal cadence, creating a solemn affect, which further sets the religious message through his music. Dani Olson, Marshall University

Marshall University Symphony Orchestra

Dr. E. Reed Smith, conductor

Angela Scoulas **, Molly Page, Olivia Hay, Yuhao Zhou, Nathanial Ramsey, Michael Wilcoxon, violin I

Maggie Cobb *, Heather Taylor, Kaitlyn Fulks, Megan Legg, Kelcey Perkins, Gina Gill, Reed Smith, Samuel Bauserman, violin II

Eric Caines *, Lena Williams, oboe

Sean Maxwell *, Justin Bahawi, trumpet

Henning Vauth, harpsicord

Jacob Campbell *, Christianna Dixon, Lucia Soltis, Jame McCumbee, viola

Dean Pauley *, Ryan Phipps, David Hay, Jamie Dzierzak, cello

Ryan Morgan *, Craig Burletic, Connor Barebo, bass

Michelle McKenzie *, Chris Kimes, bassoon

Matthew Bradley, timpani

T.K. Lombardo, organ

**Concertmaster

*Principal

Marshall University Chorus

Robert Wray, conductor

Jacob Smith, pianist

Katelyn Beaver, Lillie Bodie, Stephanie Boothe, Antonia Brown, Courtney Clayton, Destiny DiGiovanni,Rachel Hagley, Autumn Haithcock, Corynn Hawkins, Megan Jarrett, Amber King, Alison Lawhead, Chanisha Mendenhall, Olivia Myers, Monica Stanwick, Ida Ward soprano

Cassey Adkins, Anna Blakeman, Christy Carson, Courtney Cremeans, Kaitlyn Ellis, Brooke Fisher, Josie Fisher, Courtney Perry, Colleen Wermers, Mikala Williams alto

Justin Ferguson, Gabriel Gray, Tyler Payne, Jacob Smith, Jimmy Stamm, Ryan Wolfe tenor

Ethan Bartlett, Zach Falther, Sam Fishel, Jonathan Gilmore, Matt Jarvis, Matthew Monnig, Jeremy Paitsel, Nathan Stuntz, bass

# denotes Choral Union Vocal Scholarship Recipient

The Marshall University Choral Union Vocal Scholarship was established in 1992 by Erland "Ernie" and Ellen Stevens, longtime members of the Marshall University Choral Union. Through their participation in this Community /Student vocal ensemble, the Stevenses developed an interest in, and commitment to, assisting vocal students in the Department of Music through this scholarship fund. It is their hope that others in the community will choose to become supporters of this scholarship through donations to the Marshall University Foundation.

Note
Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, Huntington, WV
Library of Congress Authorities

Handel, George Frideric, 1685-1759. Messiah.

Keywords
  • choral music,
  • sacred music
Citation Information
Robert Wray, David Castleberry and Elizabeth Reed Smith. "Marshall University Music Department Presents Messiah, An Oratorio by George Frideric Handel, Marshall University Choral Union, Marshall University Chamber Choir, Marshall University Chorus, Marshall University Symphony Orchestra, Robert Wray, conductor" (2014)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/robert_wray/14/