Arts & Culture

Holiday spirit revived with Handel’s ‘Messiah’ performance

Brown Chorus to perform last concert of the semester accompanied by chamber orchestra

staff writer
Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Brown Chorus will stage its  last concert of the semester Friday, performing the first hour of George Frideric Handel’s most famous composition, “Messiah.”

The chorus has presented “Messiah” annually for the past 25 years but plays with certain aspects of the show. Last year, the group  hired professionals to sing the solos. This year, 10 students will sing these solos themselves. “It feels more wholesome to have members from the actual chorus doing them,” bass soloist Kevin Madoian ’19 said.

A chamber orchestra will accompany the chorus. “The core of this chamber orchestra is a local Providence string training program called Community Musicworks, which was founded by a Brown alumnus,” said Fred Jodry, senior lecturer of the music department. The organization aims to provide free string training to about 100 Providence students. “It is an intensive program for inner-city kids who otherwise would not have musical education,” Jodry said.

A handful of Brown students and a few professional musicians from the community will augment the chamber orchestra. “The chamber orchestra adds more texture and really makes this piece grand,” wrote Herald columnist Grace Johnson ’19, who will play the violin in the orchestra Friday, in an email to The Herald. “This is baroque music, so we have to play in a very specific style according to the period.”

“I have always wanted to play Handel’s ‘Messiah’ because it is in the essential classical repertoire,” she added. “Hearing voices above my violin is always much different than playing in a symphony orchestra, and the lyrics add a special beauty.”

Jodry himself will also play during the concert as he conducts the orchestra. His instrument is a harpsichord, which is an 18th century keyboard instrument. “It was typical of the conductor of that time to play keyboards when leading ensembles,” Jodry said. “We know that Handel himself played harpsichord” during his own productions, he added.

Over the course of the semester, the chorus remains busy with multiple projects. “We had a large fall program of mixed repertoire,” Jodry said. Its performances included African-American spirituals, a big German 19th century mass and a performance as part of the 100th anniversary of Brown’s Service of Lessons and Carols.

“We have a really good blend and sound right now, and (this concert) will be a good way to get into the (holiday) spirit,” Madoian said.


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