Long Beach Camerata Singers Presents Handel’s Messiah

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Love Handel’s Messiah but don’t want to drive out of town to hear it? Hallelujah! – Long Beach Camerata Singers 80-voice choir will present this magnificent oratorio right here in Long Beach on Saturday, December 20 at 4:30 p.m., with full orchestra and 4 professional soloists. The concert takes place at Long Beach City College Auditorium, 4901 E. Carson Street; a facility with plenty of free parking and easy access by public transportation.

Camerata’s Artistic Director, Dr. Rob Istad, will conduct, welcoming four guest soloists for the occasion: soprano Kerri Caldwell, mezzo-soprano I-Chin Betty Lee, tenor Daniel Coy Babcock, and baritone James Martin Schaefer. The orchestra is comprised of professional musicians from area symphonies.

Unlike most choral works from the Baroque period, German-born composer George Frideric Handel chose to write the Messiah in English, explaining, “I have endeavored to show that the English language, which is so expressive of the sublimest sentiments, is the best adapted of any to the full and solemn kind of music.” His choice makes the work easy to understand; nonetheless, Camerata’s performance will provide subtitles so that even less familiar sections of the work can be fully appreciated.

Messiah was composed in 1741 – in only 24 days of swift composition – using a text by British librettist Charles Jennens. Although great legends equate the rapidity of Handel’s compositional process to divine inspiration, in which they allege that as he wrote the Hallelujah Chorus, “He saw all heaven before him,” these claims are most probably unfounded. Messiah was composed quickly with the aid of compositional borrowing — a well-respected practice at that time. Handel simply adapted his previously composed material to accommodate the libretto. The unification of these previously disparate segments and the resultant dramatic flow are an incredible testament to the genius of Handel and the extraordinary strength of his musical abilities.

Camerata Singers’ Artistic Director, Dr. Rob Istad, enthuses, “Handel’s Messiah is one of the greatest works among the finest masterworks of all history. Within his stunning setting of Charles Jennens’ libretto, Handel captured the mystery of God and the majesty of life in a way that continues to resonate with audiences of all ages. His music and the remarkable story are as timeless today as they were at Messiah’s 1742 premiere in Dublin.”

Dr. Istad is not alone in his opinion of Handel’s genius. In 1824, composer Ludwig van Beethoven wrote, “Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived…I would uncover my head and kneel down before his tomb.”

Now in its 8th year, Long Beach Camerata Singers’ performance of the Messiah has become an annual tradition in Long Beach. As a reviewer of last year’s performance aptly expressed, “This town needed an annual professional performance of Handel’s beloved masterpiece…” Indeed, this is a holiday treat to be shared with family and friends.

Tickets start at $30; $10 student tickets are available at the door with student I.D. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.lbcamerata.org or call 562-373-5654.

Long Beach Camerata Singers is a 501(c)3 non-profit, 80-voice choir that has provided Long Beach residents with high-quality choral music for more than 46 years. Currently under the artistic direction of Dr. Robert Istad, Director of Choral Studies at CSU Fullerton and Assistant Director of the Pacific Chorale, the choir presents 8 concerts a year, including a fully-orchestrated performance of Handel’s Messiah and an annual Bach Festival. Repertoire encompasses a wide range of works from the Renaissance to the present. Though its roots are in classical music, more contemporary choral works, jazz, Broadway and popular tunes have been added in recent years to broaden audience appeal.

For more information about Long Beach Camerata Singers, please visit us at www.lbcamerata.org or call (562) 373-5654.

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