Saturday, November 29, 2008

Music calendar: 'Messiah,' times four

By Greg Stepanich

Almost since the day it was premiered in a long-ago Irish spring in 1742, George Frideric Handel's Messiah has been a staple of professional and amateur music-making organizations.

Along with Vivaldi's Four Seasons and the Brandenburg Concerti of Bach, Messiah is one of the three most popular and accessible works of the Baroque era. These three pieces more than any other Baroque works are able to surmount their contemporary archaisms and reach out to modern audiences, year after year. And while Messiah is really a piece for the Easter season, for the classical concertgoer in Britain and the United States of the past century and beyond it has not really been Christmas until we can hear the Hallelujah chorus.

Most choral groups don't do the entire oratorio, which lasts around two-and-a-half hours and requires some very nimble soloists and a chorus that can navigate strings of sixteenth notes spinning out like colorful banners meeting on a field of harmony. It's struck me in recent years that it's probably a little too difficult for the occasional singer and choir member, but there's something about performing Messiah that keeps everyone on his or her best vocal and instrumental behavior.

There are four local performances I'm aware of, though there might very well be other groups doing a Hallelujah or For Unto Us a Child Is Born somewhere. As far as I know, these performances are of the so-called Christmas portion of Messiah along with various other pieces from the rest of the oratorio. I don't know of any complete performances, but if there are, please comment here and let us all know.

Friday, Dec. 5: The Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale offers its annual Messiah performance at 7:30 p.m. in the church on North Federal Highway. Music director John Wilson will lead soloists, the church choir and an orchestra. Tickets: $15 and $20; students under 18 pay $10. There's also a pre-concert meal available for $15. For more information, call 954-491-1103 or 1-800-987-9818.

Sunday, Dec. 7: The Florida Atlantic University choral ensembles under director Patricia Fleitas in a performance at 7:30 p.m. in the University Theatre on the FAU campus in Boca Raton. Last year's performance was not particularly distinguished, but as this is a relatively new tradition for the school, it's the kind of thing that could keep getting better. Tickets: $15. For more information, call 800-564-9539.

Friday, Dec. 19: Seraphic Fire, the standout Miami-based chamber choir that has begun appearances this year in a series of Thursday afternoons at the Harriet Himmel Theater at CityPlace in West Palm Beach, offers its Messiah at 8 p.m. in the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami. The choir, which has recorded its version of excerpts from the work, will be joined by the Firebird Chamber Orchestra, all under the direction of Patrick Dupre Quigley. Tickets: $15-$75. Call 305-949-6722 or visit the group's Website for more information.

Sunday, Dec. 21: The Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches once again presents its singalong version at the Royal Poinciana Chapel on Palm Beach beginning at 5 p.m. Interested audience members who wish to augment the choir can sit in special pews at the front. The quality of the performance has varied over the years, but at its best Jack Jones and his forces present a memorable afternoon of seasonal music in a friendly hall filled with people in good holiday spirit. Tickets are $20, and $10 for students K-12. For tickets or more information, call 845-9696 or visit the group's Website.

1 comment:

Verticus Erectus said...

Congratulations on your new blog. It's something Palm Beach actually needs.

It would be very helpful to the artistic community if you could enable a calendar of events that allows the art communtiy to post their news. As an example, the City of St. Lucie is opening their brand new Art Gallery Wednesday, December 3rd with a retrospective of West Palm Beach photographer Tony Arruza. Tony's work is sought after by National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, and fine art collectors. You can find out more here.

Again, good luck with the PBAP!