Performance of 'Messiah' creates good will

The annual performance of Handel's "Messiah" by the Southern California Mormon Choir provided some firsts this year.

For the first time, the choir performed "an authentic baroque rendition of the `Messiah," accompanied by the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra, said Gaye S. Smith of the California Public Affairs Office.Baroque, according to The World Book Encyclopedia, is a term that can apply to many forms of art created and developed in western Europe and Latin America from the 1500s to the 1700s. Baroque music was closely related to court and church life. George F. Handel of Germany was one of the great baroque composers.

Well-known arranger Leonard van Camp, who arranged the rendition, spoke during a lecture before the Dec. 8 performance about how he worked with Handel's own notations and prepared a score true to the baroque work as originally intended by Handel.

The van Camp lecture was attended by about 300 specially invited guests, including ethnic, religious and media industry leaders from throughout Southern California, who then stayed for the performance.

"This was a wonderful opportunity for us to let our friends and the community know that we appreciate all the good we have all been able to accomplish together this last year," said Keith J. Atkinson, director of the California Public Affairs Office.

Among those attending the performance, held at the renowned Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Los Angeles Music Center, were Uri Oren, Israel's consul general, and his wife, Dee Dee; Israel's vice consul, Tsuriel Raphael; Shabbir Mansuri, executive director of the Islamic Education Council for the United States, and his family; The Rev. Mary Minor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles; George Caywood, retired executive director of the Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles; and The Rev. Orsey Malone, senior pastor of Community Neighborhood Church in southcentral Los Angeles.

Also attending were Bramahachari David Stump and Swami Sarvadevananda of the Vedanta Society, a Hindu religious society; Dennis Prager, Jewish author, lecturer on Judaism and host of a radio talk show; The Rev. Barry Smedberg, executive director of the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council (VIC), and his wife, Betty; Arlene Landon, VIC staff director and her husband, John Quinn; Ernie Wallengren, a television writer-producer who is known for work on "The Waltons," and "Life Goes On," and his wife, Cheryl; and Art Rascon of KABC television news, and his wife, Patti.

Representatives of local Chinese businesses also attended, along with staff members of the Japanese consulate.

In speaking of the success of the "Messiah" performance, Brother Atkinson said: "Our Jewish friends joined us on their first night of Chanukah (Hanukkah). Also, our Muslim guests drove many miles to be with us, and all expressed deep gratitude at being part of the evening. As a result, much good will was created, which will be of great benefit to the Church in our efforts to build bridges of understanding and cooperation among the wonderfully diverse communities we are privileged to work with here in California."

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