It’s one of the most often performed pieces in music history. For the third straight year, UW-Green Bay will present Handel’s Messiah at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, inside Cofrin Family Hall at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.
“I originally intended to just do it and move on to something else,” said UW-Green Bay Prof. Randy Meder. He will once again conduct the performance featuring the UW-Green Bay Chorale, made up of the top choral students; the Green Bay Choral Artists, a select community ensemble founded by Meder; and the Festival Orchestra, which includes members of the Green Bay Symphony and other professional musicians from the area.
“I’ve been changing things about it each year,” Meder said. “We do different versions of things. We do different choruses. I’ve tried to vary it from year to year to make it interesting for the audience and educational for the students.”
“It’s the biggest one of the year so it’s really exciting for all of us,” said senior Rachel Trempe who is majoring in music. This is her third year performing Messiah.
“It’s kind of like running a marathon and we’re coming to the end now,” Trempe said. “It’s really exciting. A lot of us are pretty pumped for this weekend.”
Messiah is an oratorio, which Meder describes as essentially an un-staged opera. While most people instantly recognize the famous chorus, Meder says the entire work is a masterpiece.
“Obviously the title Messiah, it’s a sacred theme, which oratorios generally were,” Meder said. “But this one, rather than being about a biblical character, it’s about the life of Christ.”
Meder says while the theme of the music is religious, the performance is simply designed to be a showcase of great music.
“Some people might be moved religiously by it, other people just appreciate great technique. We’re shooting for the great technique. It’s a great compliment if someone is moved religiously but that’s actually not what we’re trying to do,” Meder said.
Meder says whatever motivates people to attend Messiah, the audience will not be disappointed.
“You’ve got solo parts, sometimes the chorus will sing by itself. Sometimes there’s a soloist singing and the chorus joins,” Meder said. “There’s a little something for everybody in it.”
Featured soloists include:
• Prof. Courtney Sherman, soprano, music faculty member at UW-Green Bay.
• Prof. Sarah Meredith Livingston, mezzo-soprano, music faculty member at UW-Green Bay.
• Gerrod Pagenkopf, countertenor, a graduate of Gillett High School who now lives in Boston. He graduated from UW-Madison and the University of Houston.
• Erik Gustafson, tenor, a resident of New York City and graduate of Arizona State University.
• Michael Rosewall, bass, a music faculty member at St. Norbert College in De Pere.
Tickets for Messiah are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Call (800) 328-8587 or visit www.uwgb.edu/tickets to order.