Sunday, 08 of December of 2013 18h30
Grace Congregational United
8 Court St
On Sunday, December 8, Grace Church will present the annual performances of Handelâs Messiah (Christmas Part I and Hallelujah Chorus). The Rutland Area Chorus, soloists and orchestra will perform the concerts at 3:30 PM and 7:00 PM under the direction of Rip Jackson. Soloists are Marybeth McCaffrey of Lincoln, Amy Frostman of South Burlington, Jamie Willis of Rutland and Zebulun McLellan of Tinmouth. Handelâs Messiah, one of the great Baroque choral masterpieces, depicts the biblical prophecy and birth of Jesus Christ. The chorus and orchestra will also perform Handelâs Coronation Anthem The King Shall Rejoice and Fanfare on Adestes Fideles, composed by Rip Jackson. A free will offering will be accepted and a reception will follow the 7:00 PM performance. For more information, please call the church office at 775-4301.
Handel's Messiah (Background Info):
George Frideric Handel composed Messiah in 1741. At that time, Handelâs earlier successes in writing Italian Opera were beginning to fail, and he considered leaving England to return to his homeland, Germany. Luckily, Handel remained in England and set to music Charles Jennensâ libretto named Messiah. This was not his first attempt at English oratorios but rather a trend away from opera toward oratorios. The first performance of Messiah occurred on April 13, 1742 in Dublin at a charity concert and won critical acclaim for Handel. Interestingly, his first performances of Messiah in London received mixed praise due to his use of theatrical soloists in such a religious work. To give an idea of the forces Handel used in Messiah, in a 1754 performance Handel used 14 violins, 6 violas, 3 cellos, 2 double basses, 4 oboes, 4 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, 5 soloists and only 23 choristers! For todayâs performances, we have a 26-piece orchestra, 4 soloists and 131 choristers.
Handelâs Messiah is an oratorio, which means, in part, that it tells a story. In this case the story is told with words quoted directly from the Holy Scriptures. The story is about Godâs Messiah or Chosen One. There are three parts to this story. The first part sings prophecies about the coming of the Messiah and their fulfillment in Jesus. The second part shares prophecies and their fulfillment of the sufferings, death and resurrection of the Messiah. Finally, the third part is about the future resurrection of Godâs people and the reign of Jesus. Today we shall sing for you the first part about the coming of the Messiah and the Hallelujah Chorus. The Hallelujah Chorus is actually the concluding song of the second part. As you listen, imagine yourself as someone who is hearing this story for the very first time and be blessed!
Handel wrote four of the most well-known and beloved Coronation Anthems ever written. King George I (on his death bed) commissioned Handel to write them for the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline in 1727. Handel wrote all of them in a bombastic fashion, displaying magnificent grandeur suitable to the royal ceremonies they were written for. In the original performance, he employed an enormous orchestra (thought to be well over 100 players!) and a very large number of singers for his day. The King Shall Rejoice was published as the third coronation anthem, although it was performed as the second one originally, and uses texts from Psalm 21 (King James version). It is a grand composition split into 5 short movements. Handel uses powerful orchestrations, fugue and double fugue counterpoint, contrasting textures and other musical skills to celebrate and praise God!
A History of Messiah Performances in Rutland, Vermont:
The present day performances of G.F. Handelâs Messiah at Grace
Church were founded in the early 1950s through the efforts of
Dr. Robert English, Trinity Episcopal Church organist, and Leo
Ayen, Minister of Music at Grace Congregational Church. These
two musicians combined the choirs of their churches to perform
the Christmas portion of Messiah. The first performance was
held at Trinity Church and alternated each year between Trinity
and Grace. The event soon gained popularity and from 1962 on,
the larger of the two churches became the permanent home of the
performance. By the early 1960s, the tradition of heralding in the
Christmas season with Handelâs Messiah was so well established that,
when it was NOT performed in 1963 (the only year that it
has not been held), it was sorely missed. In 1975 a second
performance was added to accommodate increasing audiences.
The popularity of attending has been nearly matched by the interest
in performing in it. By the early 1970s the choir had expanded
to include choristers from area churches and today includes all
interested singers. Choir size has varied from around 100 to nearly
200 singers, with about 130 performing for the last several years.
The mid-70s also saw an increase in the orchestra with the
addition of a few members from the Vermont Symphony
Orchestra to supplement the excellent local musicians.
For nearly 60 years the Rutland area has been blessed with this
high quality musical offering welcoming in the Christmas season.
The consistency and popularity of this event is due in large part to
those people who have conducted and accompanied it. The list is
short but the contributions of these individuals is what makes this
such a great event.
MESSIAH Musical Directors
2000-present Rip Jackson
1999 Penny Schiek
1992-1998 W. Kevin Davis
1974-1991 Alan Walker
1973 Jiman Duncan
1971-1972 Carol Dort
1962-1970 Horace Hollister
1950-1961 Leo Ayen