Notes on Handel's MESSIAH from our director, Greg Norton
Why perform only parts 2 & 3?
GN: Messiah is a three-section work comprised of 53 pieces of music. A complete performance requires a lot of the performers – and the audience! As a result, many performances offered at Christmas time include only part one, which is about the prophecy of Christ’s coming and the nativity itself. Our performance will begin with the orchestral overture and then proceed to everything in parts 2 and 3 - the 30 pieces that tell the story of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection.
Has the Claremont Chorale sung this together before?
GN: We presented the complete work in March of 1999 at Little Bridges and in December of 2001 we performed part 1 and selections from parts 2 and 3 with the Culver City Chamber Orchestra, both here in Claremont and in Culver City. Individual pieces from the work have found their way into programs with the themes of Baroque music or choruses of Handel.
How is the message of Messiah especially relevant to our current lives at this time in history?
GN: Whether or not one ascribes to the Christian faith, these are times in which we are all seeking a redeemer, a savior, a Prince of Peace. Messiah’s themes of self-sacrifice, perseverance, and renewal are human themes that offer hope and encouragement and transcend dogma and creed. While it is tempting to believe that our current situation is unique, the story told in Messiah reminds us that despots, scapegoating and even crucifixion are not new. What is forever new is the human spirit’s creative responses to oppression, selfishness, and greed that lead to resurrection and renewal.