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Handel's Messiah

posted Dec 18, 2014, 4:24 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Dec 18, 2014, 4:24 PM ]
In 1706, following the production of his first two operas, the 21-year-old George Frideric Handel was invited by the famous De’ Medici family to come to Italy. (They were trying to turn Florence into Europe’s musical capital by attracting upcoming leading talents of the day.) He made many connections there, however, Pope Clement XI had just banned all opera, condemning theatre as a harbinger of sin. So composers escaped this Vatican decision by writing oratorios with sacred Biblical texts. Like opera, an oratorio uses a choir, soloists and orchestra. However, it’s usually not staged, and the characters don’t interact.

Like many musicians, Handel leaves Italy, becoming Kapellmeister (Director of Music) to King George I of Great Britain and Ireland, where he can compose both operas and oratorios. To escape church criticism that it’s sacrilegious to sing about the nativity and crucifixion, he premieres his most famous oratorio, Messiah, as a charity concert for the local hospital in Dublin. BYUtv is currently airing a new docudrama called Handel’s ‘Messiah’. Filmed on location in Italy, Germany and England, and featuring leading musicologists and historians, it explores the inspiring and little known back-story of this enduring work of music. Watch it!

And our own choir, along with the St. Francis Preparatory School Chamber Choir and Orchestra is performing a chorus from it today at 4:30 pm for the 10th Annual Lighting of Trees & Angels. See you there!