Messiah St George sets season’s tone

It’s a story that has been told and retold, yet somehow no one tells it quite as well as George Frideric Handel in Handel’s Messiah St George.

For those who have made the Messiah St George part of their Christmas tradition, you won’t want to miss this year’s opportunity. You can enjoy Handel’s Messiah St George Dec. 1 and 2 in the Cox Auditorium on Dixie State University campus.

Before the Messiah St George

An English oratorio written in 1741, the Messiah St George and elsewhere is based on scriptures related to the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ.

Handel used the King James version of the Bible to compose the passages. It was first performed in Dublin, Ireland April 13, 1742, according to Wikipedia. Later it was received in London. It is now one of the best-known and most frequently performed musical works in Western music.

Perhaps most amazing — it was composed in just three weeks. Such a realization is jaw-dropping when you consider the intricate melodies and flowing phrases of the piece.

Where else can you hear the words of the prophet Isaiah outlined in such understandable, and beautiful terms? His language is beautiful on its own, but set to music it paints an even more vivid picture in the Messiah St George.

For example, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” And “For unto us a child is born, a son is given… and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

Messiah St George

For years audiences can enjoy the Messiah St George. It’s been put forth by a number of musical organizations throughout Southern Utah over the years. Years ago it was put on as a musical sing along in Cedar City. Some years in Cedar City or St. George it is done with community soloists who audition and prepare. Other times professional vocalists are brought in.

There are so many ways to enjoy Messiah St George. It all depends on the year.

This year, those looking to enjoy Messiah St George this year, read on.

Featuring Lieto Voices! — a community choir — along with featured soloists, the Messiah St George includes all the favorites.

Some of the highlights for many audience members include:

* “For Unto Us A Child is Born”

* “Glory to God”

* “Hallelujah” chorus

There are two performances. One takes place Saturday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. The other Sunday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Both performances are free to the public. General seating is available. 

Music and vocals combine

The Messiah St George features a host of intricate vocal passages. Phrases such as “All we like sheep have gone astray” are stretched up and down various arpeggios, scales and more. But as much as we fixate on the vocal prowess required to perform this delightful music, one cannot overlook, nor can one overstate the importance of the orchestral support.

Thankfully Handel’s Messiah St George gives opportunity to highlight and spotlight both.

From the beautiful overture to the pastoral symphony and all the accompanying tones, it is amazing. Intricate. Beautiful. And challenging for those playing its parts.

During the Messiah St George, those emotional, moving parts will be played by the Southwest Symphony.

Southwest Symphony | Messiah St George

The Southwest Symphony operates with the following mission, according to the Southwest Symphony web site.

“We inspire and enrich audiences through the transformative power of symphonic music.” As a cultural heart of the community, we share the beauty of music through educational and entertaining performances.”

The Messiah St George certainly fits into that statement. In fact, it embodies it.

If past years are any indication, audiences are in for a treat this year.

Past viewers indicated their pleasure, calling the performance “amazing,” “wonderful,” “flawless,” and “best one I’ve seen.”

The Cox Auditorium serves as an excellent place for the Messiah St George. The acoustics are grand. The aesthetics are extremely pleasant. Most years they line the stage with beautiful poinsettia plants, which add a splash of color and Christmas spirit. All while remaining classy.

Spirit of the season

A classic work, such as Handel’s Messiah, can certainly be enjoyed throughout the year. But because of its focus on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is often performed one of two times. Either Christmas or Easter. Messiah St George has traditionally be performed at Christmas with emphasis on the sections of the Messiah that focus on the birth of Jesus Christ.

Seldom is the entire Messiah St George performed. But certain pieces are almost always included. Such as the solo pieces, “He is Like a Refiners Fire,” The Trumpet Shall Sound,” “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” and more. Along with choir numbers including the aforementioned favorites, “Glory to God,” “For Unto Us A Child is Born” and the “Hallelujah” chorus.

Whether you are a newcomer to the Messiah St George, or if it is already an integral part of your Christmas season, you should definitely include it this year. Nothing quite sets the tone for the spirit of the season, than scriptural text set to music outlining the birth, life and mission of Jesus Christ.

And the opportunity it gives to people to celebrate the talent in Southern Utah is fantastic.

Would you love to live in a community that celebrates this piece of musical art? Check out the great home listings here. And keep reading for more on the various holiday events taking place in the southern Utah area.