Symphony to perform Christmas show

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One of the most well-known pieces of Christmas music is coming back to Austin.

The Austin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will perform Handel’s “Messiah” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at St Augustine Catholic Church.

One of the best-known and best-loved works of all musical literature is George Frederick Handel’s “Messiah,” an oratorio of universal appeal that was written in just 24 days, but has survived the test of the centuries. Although its subject, the life of Christ, is applicable to the entire year, it is usually is performed at Christmas time.

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Messiah is written in three sections, each of which tells a main part of the story of Christ: the prophecy of His coming and birth, His suffering and death, and finally, the redemption of the world through faith.

The symphony last performed “Messiah” in 2008 at Knowlton Auditorium. It was suggested that a new venue be chosen for this year’s performance; St. Augustine was a logical choice because of its size, acoustics, and grandeur. The orchestra and chorus last performed the piece there under the direction of Richard Larson in the 1970s.

Soloists this year are: Natalie Bunnell, Bradley Carlton, Lia Culbert, Neal Erickson, Pam Koser, Coni Nelson, Braun Oldenkamp, Julie Schieck, and Brad Weber. They will be joined by a 70-voice choir, conducted by Sonia Larson and 50-piece orchestra, conducted by Stephen Ramsey.

A tradition surrounding the piece is attributed to King George II of England in 1793, who upon hearing the “Hallelujah Chorus,” jumped to his feet in the excitement of wanting to hear the music better. There is some controversy surrounding this story, but audiences routinely stand when they hear the first chords of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Tickets are available at Hy-Vee, Coffee on Main, and the office at St. Augustine for $12. They can also be purchased at the door the day of the performance for $15. Students K-12 are free.