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Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square to present Handel’s 'Messiah'

Reprising the enormous success of their 2014 concert, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will once again join forces to present Handel’s beloved oratorio “Messiah,” in its entirety this Easter season.

The concerts will be held on Thursday, March 24, and Good Friday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. The concert will be conducted by Mack Wilberg, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who has prepared a completely new edition of “Messiah” for the choir and orchestra.

Brother Wilberg said as he worked on the score, in the back of his mind was the question, “What would Handel have done if he had had ensembles as large as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square?”

This required Brother Wilberg to examine every note of the vocal and instrumental parts and make decisions as to what would accommodate a 360-voice choir and large orchestra and still reflect present-day knowledge of Baroque performance practices.

The result is an edition of “Messiah” that honors the extraordinary history of this brilliant masterpiece as only the choir and the orchestra can. In 1741, swimming in debt and out of favor as a composer, George Frideric Handel accepted a commission for a benefit concert in Dublin, Ireland. On Aug. 22 the 56-year-old sequestered himself in his London home and began to compose music to biblical texts heralding the life of Jesus Christ. In just 23 days he completed a 260-page oratorio he named “Messiah.” This magnum opus has inspired listeners, crossing generational and cultural boundaries from Handel’s time to the present.

The choir and orchestra will be joined by four New York Metropolitan Opera soloists with extensive musical backgrounds.

Performing the soprano solo will be Erin Morley, an acclaimed artist who has sung at opera houses around the world and with leading orchestras in the United States.

Sasha Cooke, a performer described by the New York Times as “a luminous standout,” will sing the mezzo-soprano role. In addition to her Met performances, she has appeared at opera houses from Vienna to Singapore and regularly performs with the world’s major symphonies.

Paul Appleby, tenor soloist, will appear this year for return engagements at the New York Metropolitan Opera and have his San Francisco Opera debut.

With a voice described as “vocally robust,” Joseph Barron, a bass-baritone, has appeared in multiple seasons at the Met, the Pittsburgh Opera and the Opera of Philadelphia. He will also appear with the choir and orchestra on the Sunday, March 27, “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast.

To provide the most opportunities for concert seating, the performances will be heard in three locations: the live concert in the Tabernacle, a premium simulcast in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Legacy Theater, and a closed-circuit simulcast in the Conference Center Theater. There will be no random selection for the 2016 “Messiah” concerts.

Tickets will be distributed for all three locations on a first-come, first-served basis on Tuesday evening, Feb. 23, 2016, at 7 p.m. MST exclusively through lds.org/events. (Information will be posted on lds.org/events.) For those unable to get tickets, the concert will be shown on a live stream at mormontabernaclechoir.org/messiah on Friday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. MDT.

Using the live stream, various community, music and church groups will join their voices with the choir, singing “Messiah” at various locations throughout the world.

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