Handel’s Messiah, is perhaps the most famous oratorio ever written. Since it was composed in 1742, it has become a work that people seemingly never tire of hearing or performing. It is music infused with great drama and intense emotion, heightened by superb orchestral writing and word painting. As Sir David Willcocks said, “…. Handel was the exponent par excellence of the dramatic in music”. The Choir of Christ Church St. Laurence directed by Dr Neil McEwen will perform Messiah twice during the Lenten season.
As a composer of more than forty Italian style operas, Handel’s position in London’s music circles during the 1720’s was unique. By the 1730’s however, all things Italian gradually went out of fashion – the new English style ballad- operas became the order of the day. With severe financial losses Handel turned again to oratorio accepting a libretto of Messiah in 1741 from his friend and literary scholar, Charles Jennens . It was completed in twenty-four days. After numerous revisions, a modest performance was presented in Dublin in 1742, by just 16 men and 16 boys with a small orchestra. Its popularity amongst audiences and performers was quickly established, and by 1787, a performance of Messiah at Westminster Abbey advertised eight hundred performers.
The presentation by Christ Church St Laurence will be closer to the original performance with some forty choristers who along with the soloists will be accompanied by the St. Laurence Baroque Orchestra led by violinist Stan Kornel.
The exquisite image at the top of this page is entitled Jesus is Resurrected by German born World War II painter Hans Feibusch. Christ Church St Laurence in fact owns this painting and it hangs in the church on the side of the organ case.
Tickets are $45 (full price) and $35 (concession), available at the door for unreserved admission.