2009 Messiah Performance

Just imagine for a moment the debut performance that took place in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742. Seven hundred men and women squeezing into a concert hall anticipating a world premiere performance. Women wearing dresses without hoops in order to make room for the men, who stand beside them in white powdered wigs. The air buzzes with excitement as the soloists, choir, and orchestra assemble on stage. With the raising of the baton there is a second of silence and the countertenor lifts his voice with “Comfort Ye My People”. Then Susannah Cibber, sister of the composer Thomas Arne, sings the contralto solo “If God Be for Us”. What is this great performance?

First, Charles Jennens’ compiled text from the Bible: Isaiah, Psalms, Job, Luke, I Corinthians, and the Book of Revelations. After three weeks of quick diligent writing, these words were set to music, known to us as the famous Oratorio, “Messiah” composed by George Frideric Handel.

This tradition continues in Bismarck, North Dakota joining in with 250 years of known performances in countries worldwide. The oratorio is in three parts. The entire work is two hours in length. The first section is the prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Part two chronicles His sufferings and death followed by the third section, which is the Resurrection. Trinity Lutheran Church has been sponsoring the production of “Messiah” for 81 consecutive years.

Vicky R. Boechler is in her seventh season as conductor. Originally an alto soloist, inspired by the poignant arias, Boechler is not only able to choose which portions to perform but handpicks the orchestra and the soloists. It has been tradition in the Bismarck-Mandan community to sing the Christmas portion along with additional choruses from parts two and three. In 1995 the community choir and orchestra performed in December and then again in April to do the full work which was meant to be sung at Easter.

The 2010 performance will highlight young talent, giving them precious exposure. In the last eight years, these works introduced ten young soloists to the community. There are no sets or costumes, unlike opera, the focus is on the text and the music. The soloists communicate through recitative and aria while the choir sends a message to the audience in big, bold sound. During the 80th production, the audience joined the musicians singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from the seats. This again will be the case.

The community choir membership is open to those who love to sing. In today’s society, while we establish communities online through face book, virtual and augmented reality, and even singing in virtual choirs, these emerging and veteran musicians continue to come together to communicate with each other through music. This connection is something to experience face to face. According to a new study by Chorus America, an estimated 32.5 million adults regularly sing in choruses today.

This year’s “Messiah” will be held on December 5th and features soloists Jennifer Brown (soprano), Claire Hoselton (alto), Jordan Roll (tenor), and Adam Frank (bass). The evening performance begins with a prelude at 7:00 PM by well-known Celtic harpist Debi Rogers.

The “Messiah” performance begins at 7:30 PM. Trinity Lutheran Church is located at Third Street & Avenue A, downtown Bismarck. For more information, contact conductor Vicky R. Boechler at 223-4113 ext. 20 or via e-mail: unavoce@smchs.org or visit our website at www.messiahbismarck.org

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6