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The Chorus of Westerly Performs Handel's Messiah

Highlights from Messiah on November 21, 2010

Fall PosterFor immediate release
November 2, 2010

THE CHORUS OF WESTERLY PERFORMS HIGHLIGHTS
FROM HANDEL’S MESSIAH NOVEMBER 21, 2010

WESTERLY, RI –Kicking off its 52nd concert season, the Chorus of Westerly and Conductor George Kent join with the Boston Festival Orchestra on Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 4 pm and 6 pm, to present highlights from one of the most famous compositions of all time, G.F. Handel’s Messiah.  The performances of Messiah, each approximately 75 minutes in length, will not be of the entire work.  Instead, George Kent has selected a program that includes the movements from all three parts of the oratorio.  Featured soloists include Megan Besley, soprano, Freda Herseth, mezzo soprano, Bryan Register, tenor, and Kevin Short, bass.  The performances will take place in the George Kent Performance Hall, 119 High Street, Westerly, Rhode Island. Tickets are $21-$60 (discounts are available for students) and can be purchased by calling 401.596.8663 or at www.chorusofwesterly.org.  A free pre-concert lecture, offered by George Kent, will take place on Saturday, November 20 at noon in the rehearsal room of the George Kent Performance Hall. The lecture will be followed by an open rehearsal of Messiah at 2 pm. The public is welcomed for all events. No tickets are required for the lecture or open rehearsal.

It can be easily argued that Handel’s Messiah is the most performed, loved, and celebrated choral work in all of western music (if not the world).  Indeed, Messiah’s soaring Hallelujah chorus (found at the end of its second part) may be, with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the most well known piece of music ever.  The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic in Australia holds the world record for unbroken annual performances of Messiah, having performed the work at lease once annually for 157 years.  In December, when The New York Times lists holiday musical performances, there is an entire section entitled “Messiah and other oratorio performances.”  It is a work of unending and seemingly timeless popularity.
 
This will mark the sixth time the Chorus of Westerly has performed at least all or part of Messiah here in Westerly since 1959.  Unlike many other choral organizations, Conductor George Kent does not program Messiah annually.  Instead, Kent actively tries to program Messiah and offer it to the community once every ten years. This is not for lack of love or energy for the work, but rather, this helps the Chorus present a “fresh” performance with a new interpretation every decade.  It gives both the community and singing membership a chance to experience the oratorio at its very highest level.

“We are thrilled to be presenting Messiah this fall,” states Ryan Saunders, executive director of the Chorus of Westerly.  “This is, by far, one of the most important and best works to be experienced and heard live with full chorus, orchestra, and soloists. There is just something extra special about it.  We can’t be more excited to offer it to the community.”   

Messiah, as the full work, is an oratorio that offers an expansive Christian interpretation of the biblically foretold Messiah, Jesus Christ. Charles Jennens, a friend of Handel’s, selected Messiah’s texts and created the work’s libretto from biblical verses found, mostly, in the King James Bible.  As is now well known, when Handel received the libretto from Jennens, he was exhausted and in an acute state of depression. However, upon reading the texts, Handel was immediately inspired and energized.  The result of this excitement, energy, and inspiration was that Handel composed the entire work in a breathtaking 24 days.  It is, perhaps, one of the greatest feats in the history of musical composition.

Messiah’s text and music are set in three distinct parts. Part one, the most known and performed part, tells of The Annunciation, or the prophecy and coming of the Messiah (this is the Advent and Christmas portion). Part two, which ends dramatically with the Hallelujah chorus, tells of The Passion (the Lent and Easter portion).  Part three, described by Jennens as “A Hymn of Thanksgiving for the final overthrow of Death,” is a celebration of Christ’s final victory over sin and death, taking its texts mostly from the Book of Revelation.   When performed in its entirety, Messiah is well over two and one half hours long.  For the November 21st performances, the Chorus of Westerly will not present the entire work.  Instead, the performance will feature highlights from all three parts, keeping the “storyline” of the libretto intact and in order, but reducing the performance time to 75 minutes.

The Chorus of Westerly’s performance of the work is presented through major support from Marion S. Palm, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Smith, The Wine Store/Liquor Warehouse, the Brightman Hill Charitable Foundation, and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.  The Chorus is also thankful of its media sponsors for the event: Sun Publishing, Classical 95.9 WCRI, The New London Day, and WBLQ 1230 AM.

For further information about this performance or for tickets, please call Lee Eastbourne at the Chorus of Westerly Box Office at 401.596.8663 or visit chorusofwesterly.org.

The Chorus of Westerly’s performances take place at the George Kent Performance Hall, 119 High Street, Westerly, Rhode Island. The George Kent Performance Hall is handicapped accessible.
 
Soloist biographies, headshots, as well as photographs of George Kent and the Chorus of Westerly are available by emailing Lee Eastbourne at lee@chorusofwesterly.org


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The Chorus of Westerly is a 190-voice performing arts organization located in Westerly, Rhode Island.  Founded in 1959 by music director George Kent, the Chorus of Westerly is the nation’s only independent intergenerational chorus.  This means that the 80 child/teenage members of the Chorus of Westerly sing alongside the 110 adult members on every performance throughout the concert season regardless of work, difficulty, or demands.  This a practice that is, in this day and age, unheard of in the American performing arts industry and one that has made the Chorus of Westerly unique among its peers.  The Chorus of Westerly’s season now includes three classical concert series, a Christmas Pops concert series, seven performances of A Celebration of Twelfth Night, the annual Summer Pops performance in Wilcox Park (with audiences of 25,000 annually), and several choral symposia/workshop weeks at Camp Ogontz in New Hampshire.  The Chorus of Westerly is also one of only two choral organizations to own and operate their own performance venue.  The historic George Kent Performance Hall, located at 119 High Street in Westerly, has been owned by the Chorus since the early 1990s and, in previous iterations as Westerly’s Immaculate Conception Church and the Westerly Center of the Arts, has been its regular performance home since the 1960s.  The facility was expanded and renovated over the last decade thanks to the community’s generous support to a major building capital campaign.  For more information on the Chorus of Westerly, its programs, or the George Kent Performance Hall, please visit http://www.chorusofwesterly.org or call 401.596.8663.
 
 

Press contact:
Lee Eastbourne
Operations and Marketing Manager
The Chorus of Westerly
119 High Street
Westerly, RI 02891
Tel: 401.596.8663
Email: lee@chorusofwesterly.org
http://www.chorusofwesterly.org



Ryan Saunders
Executive Director
The Chorus of Westerly
119 High Street
Westerly, RI 02891
Tel: 401.596.8663
Email: ryan@chorusofwesterly.org
http://www.chorusofwesterly.org

 

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