Southeast Missouri Symphony, University Choir and Choral Union to Perform Handel’s Messiah


Nov. 29/ 7:30 p.m. in the Bedell Performance Hall

The Southeast Missouri Symphony will join forces with the University Choir and Choral Union to perform Handel’s famous oratorio “Messiah” on Tuesday, Nov. 29 in the Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University. The program will also feature two short tone poems for orchestra: Sibelius’ Finlandia and Ralph Vaughan Williams “Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1.” The conductors for this concert will be Southeast faculty members Sara Edgerton (Haydn) and Barbara Lamont (Handel); vocal soloists will be adjunct instructor for the Conservatory of Theatre and Dance Kaitlyn Robinson, and professors from the Department of Music Leslie Jones, Chris Goeke and Timothy Schmidt.
The concert will open with Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius’ signature work, “Finlandia”. Written in 1899—1900, this piece was composed during a period of intense conflict as Finland was struggling for independence from the Russian Empire. The turbulent opening is followed by a hymn-like melody which eventually became one of Finland’s most recognizable national tunes. Next on the program will be the evocative “Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1” by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams based upon folk songs from Norfolk County, England. This work is very lyrical and remains a great audience favorite. The second half of the program will feature a performance of Part I (the Christmas portion) of Handel’s great oratorio “Messiah.” Composed by the pre-eminent Baroque composer Georg Frideric Handel in 1741, and first performed in Dublin, Ireland. on April 13, 1742, the Messiah is a work for orchestra, chorus and four vocal soloists. This large-scale work depicts the Old Testament foretelling of the Messiah and the birth in Part I, the passion, death, and resurrection of the Messiah in Part II, and the promise of redemption in Part III. The texts used in Messiah are drawn from the English Book of Common Prayer and from the King James’ version of the Bible. This majestic work is rich in word-painting and has expressive choruses and solo arias. It rapidly gained popularity and has established itself as one of the most often performed compositions throughout music history. In particular, Part I (the Christmas portion) has become strongly identified with the holiday season and performances of this work are part of the seasonal tradition in many communities. “We are looking forward very much to this upcoming concert in Bedell in late November,” commented Dr. Sara Edgerton, the conductor of the Southeast Missouri Symphony. “I think the pieces on the program complement each other very well: the opening symphonic pieces are uplifting and enjoyable, and it is great to showcase the full orchestra. Sibelius’ Finlandia is also a very relevant work, with its call to freedom from outside oppression. And, since this year is the 150th anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ birth, it is very fitting to include one of his works on this program. And finally, it has been several years since we performed Handel’s Messiah, so we are excited about being able to present this great masterpiece to the Southeast Missouri audiences! Come and join us in the beautiful Bedell Performance Hall for this concert, and start your holiday season off with inspiring music for full orchestra plus Handel’s ever-popular Messiah!”