December 4, 2021
The growing Music Ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will present a performance of the most beloved classical music in the English language, Handel’s oratorio, “Messiah.” Composed in 1741, “Messiah” is presented each year in thousands of performances in churches and concert halls throughout the world. For many, the words “Handel’s Messiah” are almost synonymous with the celebration of Christmas.
There will be one performance of the Christmas portion work, Sunday, December 12, 4:00 p.m., in the nave of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 416 SE Grand Avenue in Lee’s Summit. Admission is free and the public is invited. Following the one-hour performance all are welcome to a Wine and Cookie Reception presented by the Friends of St. Paul’s Music.
Dr. William O. Baker, Music Director of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, will conduct The St. Paul Choir, along with a professional chamber orchestra comprised largely of members of the Kansas City Symphony. Four of the region’s most respected singers will form the solo quartet: Soprano Megan Moore; Alto Erica Seago; Tenor Sean Sweeden; and Bass Michael Hon. John Schaefer, retired Canon Musician of the Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, will serve as guest organist with the orchestra. The orchestra size and composition will closely mirror the forces employed by the composer in the earliest performances of the beloved work.
Along with The St. Paul Choir, the audience will be invited to sing along on the glorious choruses, including “And the Glory,” “For Unto Us a Child Is Born,” “Glory to God,” and, of course, the majestic “Hallelujah!” Audience members are invited to bring their own scores in any edition, or make use of available scores to borrow. Attendees who wish to simply listen to the performance are welcome to do so.
Music Director William Baker estimates that he has led “Messiah” over 75 times in a conducting career that has exceeded four decades with church, civic and professional choral organizations. In a recent talk he commented on the timeless appeal of the beloved oratorio: “Handel’s Messiah is appealing because it brings together three characteristics of one of the greatest eras in music history. Handel, a German Lutheran by birth, was influenced early in his career by the broad, expansive richness of Lutheran chorale. Toward the end of his life, when he had spent many years living in England, he incorporated the polyphonic, or interactive, style of the English choir anthem to give energy and grandeur to his sacred choral works. Most of all, he was influenced by the bel canto style of Italian opera that gives us the enchanting melodies of his recitatives and arias. Thus, Handel brings together all the musical styles of the 18th century world: German, Italian and English.”
“Messiah” was adored and honored by many of the great composers in music history. Mozart was so impressed with it that he created his own orchestration of the work. Beethoven asked for a copy of the music to be brought to his deathbed so that he could look on its pages. Upon hearing a performance of it in London, Franz Joseph Haydn dissolved in tears, crying “The great Handel is, indeed, the master of us all!”
Messiah is the third major community-oriented program offered by the Music Ministry of the growing St. Paul’s Episcopal Church since Dr. Baker arrived as Music Director in late 2020. Both a July performance of Randall Thompson’s “The Testament of Freedom” and an October performance of “Hymns Triumphant” attracted full audiences. The church is very excited to bring a professional-level performance of the great Christmas classic to the Lee’s Summit community. A large audience is expected, but room will be made for all attendees. Early arrival is recommended for best seats.
For additional information, please contact the church at 816-524-3651 or email Music@StPaulsLS.org.