Classical & Pops
Is Handel's Messiah the most iconic piece of Christmas Music?
Posted on 11/16/2016
George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is such an iconic piece of music and is so ingrained as a Christmas tradition that it's easy to take its exuberance and its greatness for granted. As the holiday season draws near, it is definitely not difficult to find a performance of Handel’s Messiah to attend. However, it is uncommon to come across a performance that allows you to hear this magnificent, yet well-worn piece anew. The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, under the direction of Julian Wachner, do just that, presenting a version of the oratorio that has been described as “thrilling” (The New Yorker), “musically top-notch” (The Wall Street Journal), and “simply superb” (The New York Times). The Grammy®-nominated choir and orchestra bring their breathtaking performance of Handel’s Messiah to State Theatre New Jersey on November 30, 2016.
Annual performances of Handel’s Messiah are part of Trinity’s long and storied tradition—Trinity presented one of the first performances of the work in North America in 1770 and has since brought the masterpiece to venues such as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully and many others around the world. Trinity’s performance soars under the direction of Julian Wachner, who skillfully urges the music on with brisk tempos, meticulously built choral fugues, and provides his soloists a delightful freedom in interpreting their solos.
Messiah is typically performed by a choir and four soloists representing each voice type—soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. What makes Trinity’s performance impressively unique is how as opposed to four soloists, thirteen members of the 28-member ensemble are drawn directly from the chorus to sing each solo, demonstrating the ensemble’s breadth of talent. Messiah’s soloists are known to take exciting risks in interpreting Handel’s already emotionally compelling writing. Some highlights for soloist include the melodious soprano aria “Rejoice greatly,” and towards the end the mass, “The Trumpet Shall Sound.” This moment of the mass is of course a highlight for a bass-baritone soloist, but for the orchestra as well, with the glittering instrumental solo in this movement being one of the most recognizable in music. From the chorus’s cohesion, to each soloist’s thoughtful interpretation of the music, to Wachner’s purposeful vision for Handel’s creation, this performance is not one to miss. The ensemble’s 2012 performance was hailed by Zachary Woolfe of The New York Times “…to experience the full, formidable range of Messiah, from the furious flames of the ‘refiner’s fire’ to the delirious party of the finale… let Trinity be your guide.”
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! (Hallelujah chorus)The holidays have arrived, and so has the incomparable Choir of Trinity Wall Street. Come see this outstanding ensemble perform at State Theatre New Jersey on November 30, 2016 and make Handel’s Messiah a part of your own holiday tradition.