Statement issued Tuesday:
Fort Wayne – During the holiday season, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus, under the direction of Robert Nance, will give busy longtime fans and first-timers alike their choice between two performances of Handel’s world-famous Messiah by presenting the oratorio on two consecutive nights, December 14 and 15, at 7p.m. in Auer Performance Hall at Rhinehart Music Center, IPFW. The Phil is offering anyone who has attended or will be attending this year’s Holiday Pops tickets to Messiah for only $10. Offer not valid on previously purchased tickets to Messiah.
Composed by George Frederick Handel 270 years ago, the work may be most familiar to the public for its famed Hallelujah Chorus. However, Handel’s masterpiece, composed in only three weeks in 1741, has been called “a sermon in music,” with sections that tell of the prophecies of the Messiah and the Passion and Easter stories, all expressed in recitatives, arias, ensembles and choruses. The performance will feature the 100 plus-voice Philharmonic Chorus, with four soloists – lyric soprano Denise Ritter, mezzo soprano Rebekah Ambrosini, tenor Don Bernardini and baritone Ryan De Ryke.
Choral Director Nance says he has conducted the Messiah 25 times – his first was in Williamsburg, Virginia, right after he finished graduate school at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. He believes it remains a popular choral work because of Handel’s skill.
“Handel was the consummate musician and he wrote of a story everybody can relate to. It is totally memorable music with lots of repetition. It is like the ‘people’s oratorio’. … His musicianship is inspirational. He wrote different arrangements of every piece to accommodate the number of soloists available. He probably used six or eight, but almost any complement can handle the music.”
However, Handel’s mastery may have been only part of the great work, which he composed in only three weeks. Nance believes that, while Handel wanted to do the commissioned work because "he was down on his luck," he somehow received “divine inspiration” in the process.
“It was the penultimate work of his life – it brought him fame and fortune.”
All of the guest artists have performed in the Messiah numerous times and have extensive backgrounds in musical performance. Lyric soprano Ritter has performed under the batons of renowned conductors, such as Robert Shaw and John Rutter. Her most recent operatic role was as Violetta in La Traviata, with the Oratorio Society of Charlottesville, Virginia. Contralto Ambrosini has performed leading roles with Sarasota Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Tulsa Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and others, as well as with the Festival de Lille in France. Bernardini, an American tenor who has performed widely with international companies, recently appeared with Stadttheater Bern for leading tenor roles in Don Giovanni, Macbeth, and others. Baritone De Ryke, who studied in the United States, London and Austria, has sung extensively in the oratorio genre, as well as in stage roles and as a recitalist, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Patrons who attended or will be attending Holiday Pops may purchase tickets to The Messiah for only $10. Offer not valid on previously purchased tickets to Messiah. Tickets for the Messiah are $20 for general admission seating and may be purchased by calling the box office at 260-481-0777 or online at www.fwphil.org.