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December 2023 | Messiah

Handel’s Messiah is a perpetual audience favorite. No holiday season is complete without the unforgettable melodies, dramatic text and impassioned vocal writing — including the Hallelujah Chorus.

Handel’s librettist, Charles Jennens, chose sections of both the Old and New Testament for the lyrics of this work. George Frederic Handel, though not a native English speaker, makes the words of the King James Bible come alive with his brilliant musical settings.

Amazingly, the Messiah was composed in a mere three and a half weeks, but Handel continued revising the score for more than a decade. This persistent reworking and refining of the music created a masterpiece unlike any other.

We are proud to bring the Bremerton WestSound Symphony’s production of Messiah, with soloists, chorus and orchestra, back to St. Gabriel Church in Port Orchard and for the first time, to Silverdale Lutheran Church. We enjoyed an enthusiastic sold-out house at our last Messiah performance and with your help and support, we hope to make this an on-going event. We are proud to present soprano Emerald Lessley, tenor Andrew Etherington, alto Ann Jacobs, baritone Micah Parker, and the Bremerton Symphony Chorale under the direction of LeeAnne Campos.

Music directors are faced with a mountain of new research on Handel’s

beloved Messiah – research that raises as many questions as it answers. Do we

perform the first edition, which Handel premiered in Dublin in April 1742, or do we

recreate the 1749 London performance with Handel’s later additions? Do we try to

mimic the grandiose performances of Victorian England, with a multitude of extra players and scores of extra singers to make a performing group with many hundreds of musicians (tempting for any music director!), or do we adhere to the concept of a small Baroque ensemble?

We have again reached a delightful musical compromise for this year’s

performance. Handel’s original Baroque orchestra was comprised of strings, oboes, bassoon, trumpets, and timpani. When Mozart performed the Messiah, he added more instruments for greater symphonic depth. In the same spirit, I have created parts for a pair of flutes to give more orchestral colors. During my research on Mozart’s activities with his Masonic Lodge, I took the opportunity to peruse the parts that Mozart composed for his own revival of the Messiah in Vienna. He sparingly used trombones to reinforce the lower voices of the chorale, a common practice that goes back to the early Renaissance and the use of Sackbuts. I have followed Mozart’s example and greatly expanded the trombone parts.

As we end this season, I would like to thank everyone who has helped make the

Bremerton WestSound Symphony a thriving and vibrant part of the Kitsap arts

community. Happy Holidays from the Podium!


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