It's back and more than classical music fans are elated! Van Wert Live and the Van Wert County Foundation are pleased to present Handel’s Messiah at First United Methodist Church in downtown Van Wert on Sunday, December 12 at 7:00 pm (Doors open at 6:15 PM.) Admittance is free thanks to the financial support of The Saltzgaber Music Fund of The Van Wert County Foundation. In keeping with the tradition of Handel’s original performances, a free-will offering will be received with proceeds given to local food banks.

It's one of the most famous and widely shared pieces of music in history. Handel intended his oratorio “Messiah” for Lent, and it was first performed just after Easter 1742. But over the centuries, public performances of the masterwork became a rite of Christmas because of the sheer beauty of the music. Only the first third of the work was about the birth of Jesus. The second act covers the death of Jesus and the third focused on his resurrection. George Frideric Handel's Messiah burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The audience recorded at 700 was made possible by ladies heeding the pleas by management to wear dresses "without Hoops" in order to make "Room for more company." Handel's status was not the only draw; many also came to see the contralto, Susannah Cibber, then caught up in a scandalous divorce.

The men and women in attendance sat mesmerized from the moment the tenor followed the mournful string overture with his pointed opening line: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." Soloists alternated with the chorus, until, near the middle, Susannah Cibber recited: "He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." So moved was the Rev. Patrick Delany that he leaped to his feet and cried out: "Woman, for this, be all thy sins forgiven thee!" This goes to show that talent paying clemency for sin is nothing new to today's culture. I certainly cannot promise this same type of public penance at our Van Wert performance.

In most of Handel's oratorios, the soloists dominate and the choir sings only brief choruses. But in Messiah, the chorus propels the work forward with great emotional impact and uplifting messages. For those attending the Live performance in Van Wert, under the Direction of seasoned Conductor Paul Hoverman, you will experience this dynamic delivery of the composition.

Handel's compositional accomplishments even prompted Mozart to confess to being humbled in the face of Handel's genius. He insisted that any alterations to Handel's score should not be interpreted as an effort to improve the music. "Handel knows better than any of us what will make an effect," Mozart said. "When he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt."

Handel's Messiah is a biennial staple of Van Wert culture thanks to the generosity of The Van Wert County Foundation, the management of the VWAPAF presenting Van Wert Live events, and the musical expertise of Paul Hoverman, Choir Director at First United Methodist Church. If you are seeking a performance that will evoke the sentiments of the reason of the season, don't miss this mesmerizing performance as gifted by professional soloists and our very own regional talent. "And He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah!"