Considered by many as one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, Handel’s Messiah will be performed in its entirety Sunday afternoon, December 14, in Norwalk by the 120-voice Fairfield County Chorale.
“Although Handel wrote Messiah in only 24 days, more than 200 years later it has become one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music,” wrote FCC Executive Director John Parkinson in his notes on the piece.
“In many parts of the world, (the work) has become as indispensable an event in December as the decorating of a Christmas tree. This may seem strange to some, since Handel premiered the work, not during Advent or Christmastide, but during the Easter season in 1742,” he added.
The English-language oratorio composed in 1741 — with a scriptural text compiled from the King James Bible — is “universally recognized” for its “Hallelujah” Chorus,” Parkinson noted.
Maestro David Rosenmeyer will conduct the chorale, which will be accompanied by the Fairfield County Chorale Orchestra. Guest soloists are soprano Lauren Michelle, alto Malena Dayen, tenor Nikhil Navkal and bass Andrew Cummings.
Parkinson said: “The greatness of `Messiah’ might be explained, according to a quotation in the memoirs of Sir Thomas Beecham, who wrote, `Since his time, mankind has heard no music written for voices which can even feebly rival Handel’s for grandeur of build and tone, nobility and tenderness of melody, scholastic skill and ingenuity, and inexhaustible variety of effect.’ ”
Rosenmeyer said last week that “in addition to being very entertaining, it is a work of art.”
“It really is transforming. By the last five minutes, we — the audience and the musicians — feel as though we have been on an incredible journey, that we have reached the top of a peak … not by helicopter, but by climbing it together.
“No wonder it was the favorite piece of Mozart and Beethoven.”
And if you were wondering: The tradition of standing for the “Hallelujah” Chorus originates from a belief that, apparently overcome by emotion, King George II stood at this point during the work’s London debut, requiring all there to do the same.
The “Messiah” is the opening of the group’s three-concert season. The second concert, in league with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, on March 27 in Norwalk will be Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Schoenberg’s “A Survivor from Warsaw.”
This concert will be repeated April 2 at Woolsey Hall in New Haven. Mozart’s Requiem will be the season finale on May 9. Subscriptions for all three concerts are available for $75.
Norwalk Concert Hall, 125 East Ave., Norwalk. Sunday, Dec. 14, 3 p.m. $35-$5. 203-254-1333, www.fairfieldcountychorale.org