Although it drew a good crowd, last Sunday’s performance of “The Messiah” was up against some stiff competition — the Chiefs-Patriots game. But as the Chiefs play several games a season and “The Messiah” is performed only once, I opted for it — and still got to see most of the game.
As usual, the performance, which was hosted at the First Baptist Church, was superb, which the audience confirmed with its sustained applause.
“The Messiah” brings together some of the best voices and musicians in Sedalia (and elsewhere), all under the masterful baton of Sandy Cordes. Rehearsals began Oct. 27, and no one gets paid for the many hours of practice “The Messiah” requires.
Twenty-two churches were represented in the 43-person chorus in Sunday’s concert, with six soloists. Twelve instrumentalists made up the Symphony Orchestra Ensemble. I doubt that any other town our size could stage a comparable production.
“The Messiah” is an oratorio, which is a musical composition for orchestra, chorus and soloists. It’s the Christmas portion that we’re accustomed to hearing this time of year. The complete oratorio, which has three parts, can take up to three hours to perform.
Even though I’ve been attending “The Messiah” for many years, I knew little of its history. This year I decided to look into that, and found it interesting.
Handel wrote “The Messiah” in a little over three weeks — all 259 pages of the score (which is held by the British Library). It was a stupendous achievement, and only a genius of Handel’s stature could have done it. The fruit of his labors was what many consider to be the greatest oratorio ever composed.
Although he was German, Handel had made England his home. At the London premiere of “The Messiah” in 1743, King George II, according to one report, stood for the Hallelujah Chorus. When the king of England stands up, so does everyone else in the room. We’ve been standing ever since.
“The Messiah” is in the baroque style, which held sway from roughly 1600 to 1750. Its greatest exponent is Bach, who was a contemporary of Handel, although they apparently never met.
We all know how busy the Christmas season can be, which is all the more reason to set aside time to center in on the essentials. I’ve found that attending “The Messiah” is one of the best ways to do that.
Sunday’s concert, like all of them over the years, was a Christmas gift to the community from the Sedalia Symphony Society.