MSOC plans holiday performances

By Edith Zeldes
For the Journal Inquirer
December 2, 2004

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale is ringing in the holidays with the sounds of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Christmas Mass, “Messe de Minuit pour Noel,” and George Handel’s “Messiah.” Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, at JFK Middle School in Enfield, and Saturday, Dec. 4, at Trinity Covenant Church in Manchester.

Thirty-five singers, three soloists, and 17 instrumentalists will join forces to include six movements of the Mass: one instrumental and five traditional singing movements. Within “Messiah,” there will be equal parts of the Old Testament pre-figuration and New Testament fulfillment, with the Lenten section concluding with “Hallelujah.”

Kevin L. Mack, as MSOC chorale artistic director, will be holding the baton, in charge of the interpretation and vision of the music.

“Charpentier’s Mass is charming and small scaled in contrast to Handel’s ‘Messiah,’ which is epic,” Mack says. “The Mass is an intimate devotional piece with its scope, design, and purpose; quite different from the ‘Messiah’ dramatic content.”

In agreement is Keith Lindstrom, MSOC vice president of the Chorale.

“The Mass and ‘Messiah’ are two entirely different selections in mood and tempo,” Lindstrom says. “Our Chorale will give them the highest level of quality, articulation, and expression of emotion.”

One of the singers, bass soloist Joel Jones, is making his debut with MSOC.

“My three solos in ‘Messiah’ are very dramatic,” Jones says.

Mack speaks about the history of Handel’s “Messiah.”

“It was written in fewer than eight weeks in 1741 and had its premier in Ireland — a success there, but a blasphemous failure in England, that such a sacred subject was performed in non-sacred surroundings. ‘Messiah’ did catch on later and was performed as an annual Lenten piece, its original intent, which made Handel a wealthy man,” Mack adds.

The final selection in Messiah is “Hallelujah,” which Mack describes as a “work stunning in its power, so much so, that when Britain’s King George III heard it, he stood up in tribute to its magnificence. Thus began the tradition of entire audiences standing for the piece.”

Lindstrom says that this performance is the first for MSOC “for a while,” and he hopes it will broaden the group’s support base and audience.

On Sunday, Dec. 5, the MSOC has been invited to perform excerpts of the present holiday concert, plus Christmas carols, at the Governor’s Mansion. The MSOC also will accompany the “Nutcracker” performance by the Connecticut Concert Ballet at Manchester High School on Saturday, Dec. 18.

Admission to either concert is $13 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, children under 18 free.

For more information, call (860) xxx-xxxx.