HANDEL MESSIAH: CHORUSES AND ARIAS

2018 OSU Summer Choir

Directed by Dr. Steven M. Zielke

Conducted by OSU Graduate Music Education students 

No Audition - Open to All!

REHEARSALS:

First rehearsal: July 16, 7:00pm. Benton Hall 202.

Mondays and Wednesdays     July 16 - August 4.  7:00 - 8:50pm.  

Extra rehearsals TBA

CONCERT SATURDAY, AUGUST 4 AT 7:00 P.M.

$5 advance / $10 door. OSU students with ID free. CAFA discounts apply. Purchase tickets today!

How to Participate

OSU Students can register for credit: MUS 199 / 399 / 599

Community members may participate through the OSU SAC Academy for only $35!

Challenging Repertoire

  • Selected choruses and arias from Handel's MESSIAH (parts II & III)
  • Lullaby - Daniel Elder
  • Flight Song - Kim Andre Arneson
  • Set me as a Seal upon your Heart - David Childs
  • Shenandoah - arr. Greg Gilpin
  • I'se the B'y - Robert Swift
  • The Drinking Gourd - Andre Thomas
  • Keep Your Lamps - Andre Thomas
  • Make Them Hear You (from Ragtime) - Mark Hayes
  • From Now On (from The Greatest Showman) - arr. Emerson

Program Notes by the 2018-19 MAT Cohort

By Laura Spisla

Tonight’s performance will feature selected movements of parts two and three of Messiah, composed by George Frideric Händel. Part two describes the passion and resurrection of Christ while part three Christ’s relationship with humankind. Some well-known movements will be performed such as “Surely He Hath Born our Griefs”, “And with His Stripes we are Healed”, “All We Like Sheep”, the “Hallelujah Chorus”, “I know that My Redeemer Liveth”, and “Worthy is the Lamb”. 

George Frideric Händel (1685-1759) was born in Halle, Germany died in London, England. When he composed Messiah in 1741, Händel used selections from the Bible chosen by a librettist, Charles Jennens. Legend is that once Händel received the libretto, he composed the entire Messiah in approximately three to four weeks, as he was composing on a topic that was of great importance to him. The work was premiered in Dublin, on Easter in 1742 and was performed by members from Cathedral choirs. As one listens to the selected movements, listen for the connection between the text and the music, as Händel intentionally wrote fitting musical emotion to compliment the selected text. One will also notice several salient features of the Baroque period (1600-1750) including a light, almost airy texture; typical cadences; use of continuo; a continuous rhythmic drive, especially in “Why do the Nations so Furiously Rage Together”; and abrupt dynamic changes.

By Krystina SanGiovanni

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was a prominent composer of English oratorios, defining the genre throughout the Baroque Era and for the rest of Western Music culture. Born in Halle, Germany, Handel took his musical prowess around Western Europe, including residencies in locations such as Hamburg in 1703, Italy in 1706, and London in 1712. With interests for Italian opera waning in the middle of the 18th century, Handel began his hand at English oratorios. In April of 1742, the Messiah was featured in Dublin with astounding success.

Handel’s Messiah was written in three parts: Part I (not featured in this concert) details the prophecies by Isaiah and the annunciation to the shepherds. This part is arguably one of the most recognizable parts in all of the oratorio. Part II focuses more on the Passion, ending with, “No. 44: Hallelujah,” an absolute masterpiece that has been prominently featured in multimedia and holds up as one of the most frequently used choruses in pop culture. Part III focuses on the resurrection of the dead, as well as the glorification of Christ in heaven.

No. 31, a recitative for tenor solo titled, “He was cut off out of the land of the living,” has Isaiah telling how Christ was stricken and had passed on from Earth. The recitative starts in a slow b minor to introduce a more serious tone, moving quickly to B major as more of a hopeful turn, before ending in E major as a resolve. These harmonic movements indicate a mournful beginning, signifying the grief of the loss of Christ, which quickly turns into hopeful resolve leading into the aria.

No. 32, the Air for Tenor, is based off of text from Psalm 14:10, “But thou didst not leave His soul in Hell.” The style reflects a waltz-like dance pattern for the introduction before introducing the tenor soloist. Listen for the contour of the soloist during this movement, and note how the phrases are mainly stepwise, leaping occasionally to reset. Notice the pattern of the melody during repeated phrases, and how an identical contour is recognized, but with a different starting note.

No. 33 brings the chorus in with text from Psalm 24: 7-10, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates.” This chorus is written as a call-and-response between the treble voices; soprano I, soprano II, and alto, and lower voices, tenor and bass. The choir sings homophonically before breaking into individual parts, shortly thereafter taking on melismatic motives until the choir comes back in together. Listen closely for the motif, first presented by the sopranos at the very beginning of the movement, and then repeated on the words, “and the King of glory shall come in.” This idea keeps recurring in other movements. From there on, sopranos are echoed by the other parts, and this pattern is repeated until the resolution of the piece with a strong plagal cadence on an F major chord. The piece is triumphant in nature, jovial in spirit, and frequently features light, bouncy passages that is reflective of the Baroque style.

Works Cited:

Hicks, A. (2001). Handel [Händel, Hendel], George Frideric [Georg Friederich]. Grove Music Online. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.40060

“Lullaby,” was a song written by Daniel Elder as part of his “Three Nocturnes” set. This piece is the third of the nocturnes, the first one titled, “In Your Light,” and the second one, “Star Sonnet.” The text of the first two nocturnes take on poetic styles, such as a Shakespearean sonnet for the “Star Sonnet,” and a joyful adaptation of Maulana Rumi’s poems, “In Your Light,” under the same name. However, Elder breaks this poetic theme to offer a song of comfort and reassurance with, “Lullaby.” In his own writing, Elder states, “Lullaby serves as a simple and beautiful song of reassurance, as a mother may sing to her child to stave off a fear of the darkness and solitude of night. The beauty of this text lies in its dual nature, as it also serves to comfort those who grieve over loss.”

The harmonic progression of Lullaby takes one of lush, romantic chords; A brief piano introduction sets up the calm mood with detail of the melody in the higher octaves. Elder focuses on the resolution of suspension chords in this piece frequently, setting up for some profoundly beautiful moments. It is not uncommon for a piece like this to be taken out of time, as meter is not what is most important: The direction of the text and phrases shape the piece, as does the dynamic contrast, to create an aurally pleasing and calming experience to the listener.

Works Cited:

Elder, D. (2018). Music | Daniel Elder Music. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.danieleldermusic.com/music

By Luke Schroeder

Chorus XXII

Part two of the Messiah depicts Christ’s suffering and death, beginning with the chorus, “Behold the Lamb of God”. The slower tempo and a minor tonality are a dramatic contrast to the previous movement and set the character for Part Two. The voices of the choir interweave in beautiful fugal harmony, perhaps imitating the sorrowful cries of those at the crucifixion. Handel shows his flair for the dramatic as the voices of the choir unite to make bold declarations, only to by interrupted by the mournful voices of the sopranos. They pierce the musical texture, reminding us of the gravity of this decisive event. He was a composer of opera, we have to remember.

Aria XXIII

Following the chorus is the longest movement in the oratorio, the aria for alto, “He was despised.” It might also be the most contemplative. The tragic atmosphere certainly deepens, but at the same time this aria offers a view of the more human hardships of Christ. The interplay between the soloist and the orchestra certainly gives time for thought. While examining the nature of Christ, there are distinct undercurrents of pain. The suffering portrayed in this expressive lament is juxtaposed by the comforting cadences in the orchestra, reassuring us of the salvation to come.

By Kevin Rooney

Chorus 39: “Their sound is gone out…”

Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world.

The words for this chorus come from Romans 10:18. “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” (King James Version, 1740). This letter, the Epistle to the Romans, asks “What must humanity do to put things right with God and be saved?”[1] Saint Paul responds in this chorus’s verse, saying to listen to the apostles and the word of God.[2] This chorus rejoices the apostle’s work. In a style that resembles echoes off a mountain, the word of God is here. For salvation, we only need to listen.

Aria 40: “Why do the nations…”

Chorus 41: “Let us break their bonds asunder…”

These two movements are meant to be heard as one long chorus. The words for both movements are taken from the second chapter of the book of Psalms:
 

1Why do the heathen rage, and people imagine a vain thing? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

In his book, Reflections on the Psalms (1998)­­­, C.S. Lewis discusses that though the topics of the verses (the judgement of God) may be bleak, the text is rejoiceful. The coming of God and judgement of the world is something to be rejoiced. Handel reflects the same in these movements. Melodies are performed in counterpoint through the choir with leaps, bounds, and melisma. Though the tonality is bright and in major key, the performance of these movements is quite stressful and panic inducing.

Greg Gilpin’s, O Shenandoah

 A classic American folk song with no specific origin. It is believed to come from Canadian and American fur traders sailing the Missouri river in the 19th century. Many composers have written arrangements of this beautiful piece, but Gilpin tackles this piece by focusing on the love story within the text. Hauntingly rich harmonies and lush textures evoke sorrow that is difficult to express in any way other than song.

Pidcock-Lester, Karen. “Romans 10:5-15.” Interpretation, vol. 50, no. 3, July 1996, p. 288. Academic OneFile

Abelard, Peter, and Steven R. Cartwright. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (The Fathers of the Church. Mediaeval Continuation). Catholic University of America Press, 2011.

By Kelsie Kershaw

George Frideric Handel was born in 1685 in Halle, Germany and, from a young age, fell in love with music. Though his father was against the thought of Handel choosing the life of a professional musician, mainly due to wanting a realistic source of income for his son, Handel’s mother was supportive and encouraged him to pursue music.  Handel composed more than 200 pieces - including operas, oratorios, cantatas, trios, duets, arias, chamber music, and organ concerti - one if his most famous being his oratorio, Messiah.

Composed with English text, Handel’s Messiah is a treasured classic, performed by professional groups and school ensembles across the country. A few of the most well known selections include Surely He Hath Borne Our Grief, And the Glory of the Lord, For unto us a Child is born, and, the ever popular, Hallelujah Chorus. Messiah is based on the Christian theology of the prophet savior of the Jewish people, broken into three parts: the first about the Messiah’s coming and the virgin birth; the second about Christ’s passion and his death, his resurrection, and his ascension; and the third about the promise of redemption and the final victory over sin and death. The Messiah has large vocal ranges, numerous melismatic runs, and requires much flexibility of the voice, making it an educational challenge for young singers and a fun performance for professionals.

The selections performed in this concert are from the second and third parts of the Messiah, focusing on Christ’s passion and death, and the victory over sin and death. They are a challenge for the performers and a provide the performers an opportunity to connect with an important part of our musical heritage.

By Rachel Bomalaski

If it seems nonconformist to be performing Handel’s “Messiah” in the middle of the summer, you may be interested to know that this Christmas favorite was actually composed and premiered as an Easter celebration. It’s clear why this masterpiece is often performed during the Christmas season. Part I tells the story of the prophesies, from the Old and New Testament, surrounding the birth of Christ. Thus Parts II and III, the stories of the death and resurrection, are more often omitted from modern Christmastime performances, though the well known 


“Hallelujah” chorus that closes Part II is always included. In addition to this famous chorus, Parts II and III contain some of the most sparkling and overlooked gems of the entire work. The arias “He was despised” and “I know that my redeemer liveth” for alto and soprano, respectively, present soloists with challenge of tempering rich expressiveness with sensitive restraint. The choruses range in emotional content from deathly serious to jovial; such enigmatic pieces as “And with his stripes we are healed” require performers to express almost simultaneously both suffering and redemption.

This mystically inclined tour de force found its first audience in April of 1742 in the secular Musick Hall of nonconformist Dublin. Though Charles Jennens, an evangelical Protestant, hoped his libretto would convert the very people who would think to attend a secular concert hall during Lent, the subversively Catholic Irish apparently considered the work to be just as suited to their own religion as to anyone else’s. Such is the power of the masterpiece: time and religion cannot contain its glory. Even today, the transcendent symbolism present within the story of birth, death, and resurrection, combined with the visionary magic of the score, can be a source of inspiration, fascination, and solace for believers of all stripes, and skeptics alike.