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Hyde Park Community Embraces the Holiday Season with a Musical Tradition

A majestic performance of Handel’s Messiah fills Rockefeller Memorial Chapel with music and song.

Chicago, IL, November 26, 2009 --( The University of Chicago Chorus and Motet Choir will join the Rockefeller Chapel Orchestra, Grande Prairie Singers, and special guests for the annual performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah in Hyde Park on Friday, December 4th at 8:00 pm at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. James Kallembach, Director of Choral Activities at the University of Chicago and Artistic Director of the Grande Prairie Singers, conducts.

Undergraduates, graduates, faculty, staff, and singers from the University and Hyde Park community make up the 150-voice choir. This year, the vocal ensemble will partner with the newly formed Rockefeller Chapel Orchestra, a special selection of musicians formed specifically for this Messiah performance, and the highly diverse Chicago Southland group, Grande Prairie Singers, to perform the beloved collection of compassionate arias and lively choruses in the magnificent setting of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

A tradition in Hyde Park since 1930, the 2009 performance will feature soloists Hyun Suk Jang (soprano), Ann Vikstrom (alto), Andrew Schultze (bass), as well as special guest artists Trevór Mitchell (tenor) and a string quartet comprised of Anaphora Ensemble members, who have performed at numerous venues this past year (including the University of Chicago’s Noontime Concert Series and Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion).

The Messiah is not only the most widely performed of Handel’s works, but is arguably one of the most popular compositions in the entire oratorio genre. Upon reading the scriptures from the Old and New Testaments compiled by literary scholar Charles Jennens, Handel was overcome by their power and composed the complete work in a mere 24 days, often feeling close to seeing the face of God in the music. In symphonic celebration, the Messiah recounts the life of Jesus from birth to crucifixion and finally resurrection, interweaving vocal and orchestral performance to create an uplifting, spiritual experience. The full orchestral textures and subtle choral nuances emphasize the theme of redemption and salvation, while the prominent role of the brass in the piece generates a sonic impact far beyond that of most other oratorios.

With the largest musical cast to date in the history of the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel performances, this year’s Messiah promises a sonically memorable and spiritually inspiring experience.

Prior to the Messiah, pre-concert music begins at 7:30 pm with carols sung by the University Women’s Chorale, a chamber ensemble of 30 members from campus and community. As well, Thomas Weisflog performs on the newly restored E.M. Skinner organ, one of four University organs of the American organ-builder E.M. Skinner. Since its 2008 restoration, the organ is now equipped with over 8,500 pipes and 130 ranks, capable of rendering both a full orchestral sound and soft ethereal effects.

Ticket sales begin on Monday, November 23rd at 10 am and can be purchased by calling the ticket hotline at 773.702.9075. Please note: this concert frequently sells out.

Quick Facts

Handel’s Messiah, performed by the University of Chicago Chorus, Motet Choir, Grande Prairie Singers, Rockefeller Chapel Orchestra, and special guests

Friday, December 4, 2009 at 8 pm

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
University of Chicago Campus
5850 S. Woodlawn Ave

George Frideric Handel’s Messiah

$35 Chancel // $25 Front Nave // $20 General // $10 Students
*Please note that Front Nave seating will open to general admission at 7:55pm

Ticket Hotline: 773.702.9075
Ticket sales begin Monday, November 23

Persons with a disability who may need assistance should call 773.702.8484 in advance of the event.

Contact Information
University of Chicago Department of Music
Rashida N. Black

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