This archived article was written by: Heather Myers
The 55th annual CEU performance of Handel’s “Messiah” will be at the Price Civic Auditorium on December 5 at 7:30 p.m. under the direction of Dr. Greg Benson, CEU music instructor. The performance will include a full orchestra with brass, woodwinds, strings and timpani.
“I first performed in ‘Messiah’ as a trombonist nearly 30 years ago, and have done so many times since, but I have never before had the opportunity to conduct this monumental work.” Benson said, “So I’m very much looking forward to leading the soloists, chorus and orchestra in this year’s “Messiah.” The audience will be
treated to some spectacular sounds and sights.”
The orchestra, which consists of people from the community as well as from CEU, has been preparing for the performance for about a month under the direction of Benson. The choir and soloists have been practicing as long under the direction of Russell Wilson who was the director of the Price “Messiah” for the past 16 years. This year Wilson will be singing in the bass section of the choir. “I’ve conducted the work more than 30 times, but this is the first time I get to actually sing it,” Wilson said.
Nine soloists will highlight the performance including Melissa Trowbridge, Joy Turnbow, Lisa Hansen, Tamlyn Weaver, Ben Jones, Grady McEvoy, Lila Jameson, Amber Denslow and Shea Bradshaw.
Trowbridge is a CEU student from Wellington, Utah, who teaches music at Wellington Elementary. This is her first performance of “Messiah” and will be performing the solo “Angels and I Know.”
Turnbow is an alto from Denver, Colo., and is a sophomore at CEU. This will be her second performance.
Hansen is a sophomore from Corrine, Utah. She will perform the alto solo, “O thou that Tellest.”
Weaver is from California and lives in Helper, Utah. She works at Balance Rock Eatery and Pub and studied voice at BYU Idaho [Ricks College.] This will be her first performance in the Price “Messiah”
Jones has performed in the Price “Messiah” seven times. He is a graduate of Carbon High School and is originally from Spring Glen, Utah. He now lives in Session Residence Hall where his wife is hall director.
McEvoy is the chairperson of the theatre department at CEU. He is singing tenor in this production of “Messiah.” He has appeared in the piece numerous times, in Price as well as at several Snow College performances. He serves as a member of the Carbon County School Board.
Jameson is a resident of Price who attended CEU from 1998 to 2000. She has performed in “Messiah” four times, twice as a soloist. She will be performing the popular soprano solo, “Come Unto Him.”
Denslow is from California and has studied voice for 20 years. She has performed several times in “Messiah,” this will be her second time as a soloist. She is also assistant conductor of CEU’s choirs this year.
Bradshaw is a graduate of Carbon High School and is teaching choir at Box Elder Junior High School. He graduated from CEU nearly 10 years ago with a degree in music. He has sung with the Utah Opera Chorus and is this year’s featured guest soloist.”
George Frideric Handel was born and trained in Germany, gained success in every aspect and genre of music while living in Italy, and lived the last 50 years of his life in England. Handel’s “Messiah” was composed in London in 1741-1742 and debuted in Dublin on April 13, 1742 at the New Music rooms on Fishable Street in Dublin. It is Handel’s best-known work. “Messiah” was not originally a Christmas tradition; it was intended to be a thought provoker during Lent and for Easter.
Like most of Handel’s work “Messiah” is based on the Bible. One of Handel’s associates, Charles Jennens, a literary scholar who spent his time editing Shakespeare’s plays, fastidiously poured over the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and selected stories for Handel. Jennens had admired Handel’s music since 1725.
Handel was reluctant to put such a religious piece on the London stage and even had a hard time in Dublin where the government threatened to forbid singers in St. Patrick’s Cathedral from taking part. Handel compromised by running the piece under the name, “A Sacred Oratorio” to avoid charges of blasphemy.
The “Messiah” has been performed throughout the world the last 300 years. The local production was started by Carbon High School music instructor, Dorothy Brown. Wilson, a student of Brown, continued to bring the masterpiece to the area when he returned to head the choir program at CEU. After conducting it for many years, he is singing with the choir, a position he held under Brown’s direction over three decades ago.
The Price “Messiah” is free and open to the public.