This holiday season, experience "Messiah," George Frederick Handel's beloved oratorio -- like you've never heard it! On Sunday, Dec. 10, the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra presents an intimate setting of "Messiah" played entirely on plucked strings. Joining the orchestra will be four top-flight vocalists from Seattle's choral and operatic community.
"Messiah is one of the most popular and well-known pieces of music in the world," said Joseph Pollard White, SMO Artistic Advisor and conductor for the evening's performance. "Changing the instrumentation can help us hear it with fresh ears, as if for the first time. The transparent quality of the mandolin sound supports the voices beautifully, revealing aspects of Handel's music that one might not notice in a conventional setting." The orchestra will present an abbreviated version of the oratorio, featuring Part I, or the "Christmas section," plus the famous "Hallelujah" Chorus.
Soloists Julie Finch, soprano; Elizabeth Peterson, mezzo-soprano; Derek Sellers, tenor; and Gustave Blazek, bass, will sing with the orchestra. In another unconventional move, the soloists will also constitute the entire chorus. "Obviously the chorus can't get any smaller," said White. "Our intention is to create a sense of intimacy, rather than overwhelm the audience." The pristine acoustics of Seattle's Green Lake United Methodist Church, located at 6415 First Ave. NE, provide an ideal setting for this unique performance.
First presented in 1742, Messiah has been played by groups large and small, with a variety of orchestrations and arrangements, although recent trends have favored smaller ensembles. "We know that Handel was familiar with the mandolin, because he wrote a small part for it in one of his later oratorios," said White. "But mandolin orchestras didn't come on the scene until the late 19th century. While we're taking liberties with the instruments, we haven't changed a note and are using the same string parts as a conventional orchestra."
Since taking the podium for the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra in 2010, Joseph Pollard White has worked with the group to reinterpret the music of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Haydn, Brahms and other composers, exploring the mandolin as a legitimate voice in classical music as well as other styles. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, White earned his master of music in viola performance at the Indiana University School of Music, and his doctor of musical arts in orchestral conducting at the University of Washington. He has performed across the United States and Europe, and has worked locally with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, Seattle Chamber Players, Philharmonia Northwest, and Northwest Mahler Festival, and served as music director of the Rainier Symphony, Civic Light Opera, and Thalia Symphony.
Founded in 1983, the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra is dedicated to revitalizing America's mandolin ensemble tradition. Featuring the entire mandolin family of instruments, including mandolin, mandola, mandocello and mandobass, as well as guitar, the group performs throughout the Seattle area. The Orchestras Italian-themed CD, Coloratura, and its holiday CD, Rejoice, will be for sale at the concert. Both recordings feature the captivating vocals of soprano soloist Julie Finch. For more information, visit www.seattlemandolin.org.
Green Lake United Methodist Church (View)
6415 1st Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98115
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