November 25, 2023
The Music Ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 416 SE Grand Avenue in Lee’s Summit will present its Third Annual performance of the Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah” on Sunday, December 10, 2023 at 4:00 p.m.
Dr. William O. Baker, music director for the historic congregation since 2020, will conduct the St. Paul Choir and a chamber orchestra comprised, in part, by members and alumni of the Kansas City Symphony. Four of the region’s up and coming young soloists, Megan Moore, Erica Seago, Sean Sweeden and Michael Hon, will be the professional quartet. John Schaefer, Canon Musician for Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral from 1977 to 2017, will be at the organ. The format of the concert will be a sing-along, where members of the audience may join in the singing of the majestic choruses. Admission is free and the community is invited. A wine and cookie reception will follow the performance, provided by the Friends of St. Paul’s Music.
“Handel’s ‘Messiah’ is one of the most beloved classical music works in world history.” says Dr. Baker, “Since it was first performed for a hospital benefit in 1742, it has grown in affection and popularity. The greatest composers of succeeding generations praised it as a legendary work. Haydn wept when he first heard it, saying ‘The great Handel is the master of us all.’ Mozart respected it so much that he wrote his own orchestration for it. Beethoven asked that a copy of it be brought to his deathbed.”
Each year millions of people across the globe flock to performances of the work in churches and concert halls. From excellent church choirs performing the work, to chamber orchestras and choirs playing and singing it in intimate settings, to coliseums with hundreds of orchestra musicians and thousands of singers, Messiah is as much a part of Christmas as decorated trees stockings adorning fireplace mantles.
“When many people think of ‘Messiah,’ they envision huge orchestras and choirs, but Handel’s conception is more of a light, expressive chamber oratorio with an orchestra of 8 to 16 top notch players, a quartet of soloists, and a choir of 16-24 voices,” says Music Director William Baker. Though the chorus for the Lee’s Summit performance will be the actual audience, the instrumental forces will closely resemble what Handel would have heard in his own time.
Attendees are welcome to come and listen, or take up a score and sing with the choir and orchestra on the famous choruses. Dr. Jamea Sale, associate music director for St. Paul’s Church, says, “Any edition of ‘Messiah’ that you own will work just fine.” Attendees who wish to sing, but do not have their own score may borrow one with a $10 deposit, refundable when the score is returned following the concert.
The music ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has grown to one of the most active church programs in the Kansas City region over the past two years. The St. Paul Choir leads the weekly Choral Eucharist services 52 Sundays a year and presents a regular schedule of services and outreach concerts. Recent performances have included annual “Messiah” performances since 2021, Randall Thompson’s “The Testament Of Freedom,” Robert Ray’s “Gospel Mass,” Bach’s cantata “Ich Will Den Kreutzstab Gerne Tragen” and Buxtehude’s “Jesu, Meine Freude.” St. Paul A Cappella, a chamber ensemble of professional and semi-professional singers has recently performed a program of Colonial and Early American works, and the demanding 1605 Requiem of Renaissance composer Thomas Luis da Victoria for Holy Week earlier this year.. The St. Paul Ringers has performed frequently throughout the community for the Festival of Lights in Powell Gardens and for the Memorial Day Service at Lake Lotowana.
For information about the sing-along performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” please contact the church at 816-524-3651 or Music@St.PaulsLS.org.