Charlie Bates: Production of ‘Messiah’ a triumph, hits all right notes | SteamboatToday.com

Charlie Bates: Production of ‘Messiah’ a triumph, hits all right notes

Steamboat Springs — George Frideric Handel's “Messiah” is certainly one of our most glorious Christmas compositions. — George Frideric Handel's “Messiah” is certainly one of our most glorious Christmas compositions.

— George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” is certainly one of our most glorious Christmas compositions.

Thanks to the generosity of Colorado Mountain College, represented by Dean Kerry Hart, which purchased the composition and then lent it to the Community Choir, the Cantata was produced in its original complexity, though shortened by half.

The evening began with Marie Carmichael delivering an eloquent and appreciative eulogy of the late Rusty Poulter, who started the community production of “Messiah” in 1970, and was choir master for the next 20 years. She also pointed out that music director Ernest Richardson was donating his time and boundless energy, attesting to his commitment to our community and his love for this valley.

The original performance in 1741 had a choir of only 20 men and boys, but an orchestra of 30 to 35 musicians. Steamboat’s choir was more grand, with 87 members of the choir as well as five soloists: Joyce El-Khoury and Keri Rusthoi, sopranos; Kathryn Krasovec, mezzo-soprano; Jason Baldwin, tenor; and David Farwig, baritone. They all have professionally trained voices and have been featured in many performances. There were only 17 musicians, all of high caliber.

“Messiah” begins with a brief but grand overture and then falls into the basic format of recitative, which is wordy and expressive. In the first, the people are admonished to prepare the way for the Lord. This was sung by the tenor. Then, he sang the Air, an aria, which is a simpler statement of how to prepare a highway for the Lord.

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That is followed by the chorus’s prophesy of the glory of the Lord’s revelation. This was sung by the different sections – soprano, alto, tenor and bass in sequence – each repeating itself, as a round, building complexity.

There were 10 recitative passages in this performance. The fourth announces the birth of The Child; denoted “Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

After an intermission, the second half began with a delightful Pastoral Symphony, which introduces us to the subject of the next recitative, sung by a soprano, depicting shepherds watching over their flocks.

After a brief tenth recitative, “Unto which of the angels,” answered by the tenor section of the chorus, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him,’ the audience rose to its feet for the rousing finale, the Hallelujah Chorus: “He shall reign forever and ever. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, Hallelujah.”

It is quite a remarkable achievement that so many groups and individuals should come together to make this a truly community production and yet, that it should be of the highest quality.

Production team

A true community effort, last weekend’s production of Handel’s “Messiah” was presented by Colorado Mountain College in collaboration with Emerald City Opera, Steamboat Springs Arts Council, Steamboat Springs Community Choir, Steamboat Springs Orchestra, music director Ernest Richardson, and choral direction by Nichole Young and Marie Carmichael. The show drew sell-out crowds to the Steamboat Christian Center.