An East Central University musical tradition will be revived Tuesday and Wednesday [DEC. 1 and 2] when the University Singers and community members perform selections from George Frideric Handel's "Messiah."
Students and community members revive a tradition as they rehearse at East Central University for the Centennial presentation of Handel's "Messiah" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday [DEC. 1 AND 2] in the Ataloa Theatre in ECU's Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center. Admission is free.
Dr. Steven Walker, ECU professor of music, will conduct the "Messiah," one of the most popular and respected works in Western choral literature, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center. There is no admission charge.
"Messiah," which was written for secular theater, is a presentation of Jesus' life and its significance to the Christian faith. It is based on a libretto by Charles Jennens who used Bible verses for the text about Christ's birth, crucifixion and resurrection and the events described in the Book of Revelation.
"It's really quite difficult to sing. There's nothing easy about it," said Walker, who once traveled across the United States singing it professionally. This performance will be the first time he has conducted the work.
Händel set Jennens' libretto to music in 24 days during the summer of 1741. He is rumored to have written the work while he was depressed and in debt. The "Messiah" was premiered during Lent in 1742 in Dublin, Ireland. Today, it is most commonly performed during the Christmas season and is perhaps the most frequently performed musical work in Western civilization.
A performance of the entire oratorio would take about three hours, Walker said. The ECU production will last about two hours.
"It is written in three parts," he said. "We will sing something from every part. We are immensely proud to present the 'Messiah.'"
The performance will include the tradition of standing during the most famous movement, the "Hallelujah" chorus. According to tradition, England's King George II stood for unknown reasons as the chorus began, followed by the entire audience and chorus. Whenever a monarch stands, protocol says, so does everyone in the monarch's presence.
Organist Dr. Starla Hibler, ECU professor of music, will accompany the singers as well as perform the work's overture and pastoral symphony.
The soloists all have ties to ECU. Dr. Melody Baggech, soprano, and Dr. Alan Marshall, tenor, are faculty members. Catie Caton, mezzo-soprano, is an ECU graduate and employee. Ada businessman Bruce Bonar, baritone, is an ECU graduate.
ECU's long tradition with the "Messiah" dates back to Robert Kaebnick who was the choral director from 1957-1977. Under his direction, the University Chorus sang the "Messiah" almost annually. It was performed three times after Jeff Frederick took the post as choral director in 1978. It was last performed at ECU in 1998.
Students in the University Singers are Sarah Barnes, Phillip Berryhill, Kelsey Creed, Caitlin Gray, Danna Howry, Collin Low, Wyas Parker, Abigail Seal, Brittany Trail, Brooke Trail, Jennifer Whitley and Jessica Whitley, all of Ada; Carissa Rodgers, Stonewall; Kathryn Burns and Sara Morgan Coalgate; Felicia Hunter, Tupelo; Zachariah Champagne, Tishomingo; Joseph Terrell, Elmore City; and Chalie Smith, Maygan Howard, Laura Knight and Meleah Underwood, all of Stratford.
Others are Jesse Gordon and Kaleb Gordon, Seminole; Leah Creason, Beggs; Jamie Fulghum and Luke Smith, Holdenville; Jessy Beasley, Calvin; Jarrod Doyal, Ardmore; Lacee Elliot, Davis; Justin Cody, Tim Long and Tommy Long, Tecumseh; Sheena Stallings, Shawnee; Amber Keith, Ardmore; Gretchen Reiswig and Brock Barrett, Purcell; Angela Marshall and Jacob Stevens, McAlester; Joseph Mohr, Sayre; and Ryan Codopony and Jessie Jennings, Noble.
Also, Casey Taylor, Moore; Brooke Geisler, Norman; Jonothan Bomboy, Chris Geisler, Nick Geisler and Roy Harris, Little Axe; Jamie Cothren and Katelan Gilley, Wynnewood; Cody Rowe, Warr Acres; Aaron Sadler and Tyler Brewer, Oklahoma City; Lindsey Sargent, Edmond; Antonio Gloria, Mustang; Meg McConnell, Wellston; Michelle Williams, Eufaula; Nathaniel Sheeley, Owasso; Ashley Green, Okmulgee; Kristen Stecklein, Vinita; Christina Kushnick, Spiro; and Jim Gordon, Tunnel Hill, Ga.
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