DEFIANCE, Ohio - On Sunday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in St. John United Church of Christ, the 39th annual community performance of Handel’s “Messiah” will once again provide an inspirational opportunity for area residents to begin their holiday season. The 80-voice chorus, ten area soloists, and an orchestra of 19 accomplished professional musicians ensure the candle-lit concert to be a success.
While the tradition is almost 90 years in age, the last 38 consecutive performances were led with the late Dr. Richard Stroede holding the baton. He revived the tradition in 1974, initially performing the Christmas section and singing from the balcony of the church with organist Carolyn Small. From the original 30 singers, the group quickly grew and was moved to the front of the sanctuary. In recognition of the 25th performance, the accompaniment was changed to orchestra with Small on harpsichord. For the past 13 years, the orchestra has consisted of strings from the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and local wind players.
With the passing of Dr. Stroede this past May, the baton has been given to newly appointed director of music programs Andrew Schultz.
“When Dick Stroede passed, he left behind a legacy at Defiance College,” said Schultz. “One of the most recognizable is the community presentation of Handel’s ‘Messiah.’”
“Messiah” is one of the most popular pieces in all of the world’s choral literature. The work was composed in the summer of 1741 and first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742. As was his habit, Handel worked at breakneck speed, completing the work in 24 days. But the practice at the time allowed the use of earlier works – both his and others’. It is believed that Handel wrote the work while staying at the librettist’s country home.
It was first intended to be performed in a secular theater during Lent, though it is now usually performed during Advent. And the work is frequently done in churches, as is the case in the Defiance performance. In many cases only the Christmas section is performed, with the addition of “Hallelujah,” though full performances are frequently found. In the Defiance performance, the entire Christmas section is included prior to intermission, with the selections from the later section following.
A dessert reception will be held in the church Fellowship Hall following the performance.
The event is free and open to the public. A free-will offering will be taken at the end of the performance. Those wishing to make additional contributions to this performance may mail a check payable to Defiance College, to Andrew Schultz, Director of Music Programs, Defiance College, 701 N. Clinton St., Defiance, OH 43512
Defiance College, chartered in 1850, is an independent, liberal arts institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The college website is www.defiance.edu.
November 30, 2010