Signature Symphony's 'Messiah' blends music with art for Saturday concert
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Sunday, December 02, 2012
12/02/12 at 4:21 AM
The story goes that while George Frideric Handel was writing the music of the "Hallelujah" chorus for his oratorio "Messiah," he claimed to see "all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself."
When the Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College performs Handel's "Messiah" on Saturday, audiences are guaranteed to see visions - though they will be of a more earthly variety.
As part of the orchestra's "New Dimensions" program, it will perform the oratorio in the manner that Handel himself envisioned the piece - with an orchestra of fewer than 20 musicians and a chorus of about 40 voices plus soloists.
The performance will be accompanied by a multi media show of more than 200 classic paintings that depict biblical scenes, which will illustrate the story of "Messiah."
"The idea that I had for New Dimensions is 'more than just performance,' " said Signature Symphony artistic director Barry Epperley. "I wanted to create programs that incorporate elements that aren't necessarily musical but that will enhance the music being performed.
"With 'Messiah,' I sought out paintings that would correspond exactly with the scriptures Charles Jennens used to write his libretto," Epperley said. "We'll be projecting these on screens over the orchestra."
The images will include works by some of the greatest artists, including Caravaggio and Tintoretto, William Blake and W.A. Bouguereau.
"One of the things that struck me in putting this project together," Epperley said, "is that it's obvious that these paintings are just as deeply felt by the artists who created them as 'Messiah' was by Handel and Jennens."
Epperley said he had edited the oratorio slightly, removing a few sections for the third section of the work. He also has encouraged his vocal soloists - soprano Susannah Brooks, mezzo-soprano April Golliver, tenor Stefan Barner and bass-baritone Tim Turner - to add the sort of vocal embellishments to their parts as was customary in baroque music.
The work will also be presented with as few pauses as possible.
"When you look at the score, you see how the various pieces fit together - the way a recitative will perfectly set up the aria that follows," Epperley said. "It just seems to flow that way, in order to best tell the story.
"Handel wrote this in 22 days, so it's obvious he was very intent on telling this story, and telling it as well and as clearly as possible," he said. "We hope to do the same thing - tell this story through the words, the music and the pictures."
Presented by the Signature
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: VanTrease PACE, 10300
E. 81st St.
Tickets: $5-$20. 918-595-7777,
Original Print Headline: Symphony to blend Handel's 'Messiah' with art works
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478
The Signature Symphony's production of "Messiah" will be augmented by a slide show of more than 200 paintings of biblical scenes that correspond to the libretto of Handel's great oratorio, such as "The Last Supper" by Tintoretto. Courtesy