Seattle Symphony's Performance of Handel's Messiah

Seattle Symphony's Performance of Handel's Messiah

George Frideric Handel’s Messiah was composed in 1741 and first performed in Dublin on April 13th 1742. This piece of music is older than the revolutionary war! The language used in the piece are direct quotes from scripture. This composition is split into three parts, all focusing on Jesus Christ. The first uses Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah while also focusing on his loving nature. The second grimly explains his suffering and eventual death. The third centers on the resurrection. Handel wrote the music for the Messiah in a whopping 24 days. That is 53 individual pieces of music, spread across multiple instruments, completed in under a month. Handel continued to revise and edit the piece over 10 years and the first published score was released in 1767, 8 years after Handel’s death.

The Seattle Symphony has been performing Handel’s Messiah during the Christmas season for over twenty years. This year, Paul Agnew stole the show by not only colorfully conducting the piece but also singing as the tenor soloist. He was supported by Anna Devin the soprano soloist, Matthew Burns the baritone soloist, and Benno Schachtner the countertenor soloist and of course the riveting voices of the chorale. Some of the most extraordinary uses of the choral is “Wonderful, Counsellor” (Isaiah 9:6) in part the first, “Hallelujah” (Revelation 19:6, 11:5, 19:16) in part the second and the final “Amen” (Revelation 5:12-13) in part the third. Times like these you are humbled by the immense talent this group holds and the sheer power behind their voices. But of course, the soloists and the chorale aren’t complete without the symphony. You can’t help but be mesmerized as you watch the synchronized movements of the string players as they delicately saw their instruments. The wind and brass instruments explode with sound as the come in and out of the piece. The Seattle Symphony is truly a force of nature.

If you missed this year’s performance of Handel’s Messiah, have no fear. As always, next year the symphony will once again perform this beautiful piece of music during the holiday season. Come and prepare to be moved by the power of the Seattle Symphony and the Chorale. I encourage you to check out other upcoming productions this year.

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