Messiah by George Fredrick Handel will be presented at Gateway Church (2884 Abbotsford-Mission Hwy.) in Abbotsford on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.
The production features a chorus of 120 singers; soloists from Victoria, Vancouver and Ontario; and an orchestra combining the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra with professionals from Vancouver directed by Calvin Dyck.
While this most famous oratorio is most often performed at Christmas, it was originally conceived as an Easter work, and only the first third of the work is about the birth of Jesus.
Handel suffered a stroke at age 52, which incapacitated him, making it impossible for him to perform or conduct. He also complained of blurred vision.
Because he was not a wise businessman, he lost a fortune in the opera business and, depressed and in debt, gave it up in 1740.
It was only shortly after these calamities in Handel’s life that he came across a libretto composed by Charles Jennens.
Handel was so inspired he wrote the whole 2.5-hour oratorio in only 24 days. When he got to the Hallelujah chorus, his assistant found him in tears saying, “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God.”
King George decided to attend a performance. When the Hallelujah chorus began to play, the King abruptly stood up, apparently as a way of indicating he recognized that Christ was the King of Kings.
It was normal protocol that if the King stood at any time, no one in his presence sat, and so the entire audience stood for the performance of the Hallelujah chorus. The tradition has been maintained to this day.
This performance will combine Abbotsford’s Valley Festival Singers and the Pacific Spirit Choir from West Vancouver.
They will be joined by baritone Chad Louwerse, tenor Josh Lovell, soprano Jane Long, and mezzo-soprano Christina Kent.