Mendelssohn’s Elijah

Date: Mar 12, 2017  |  Time: 3:30 pm


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PART I (Selections) & PART II (Complete)

The Chattanooga Bach Choir & Orchestra, conducted by David Long, presents Felix Mendelssohn’s Biblical oratorio, ELIJAH, Part I (selections); Part II (complete), on Sunday, March 12 at 3:30 p.m., at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 8451 E. Brainerd Road, Chattanooga. There is a suggested donation of $20 at the door; students are free.

The Bach Choir will be joined by the Center for Creative Arts Concert Choir, directed by Neshawn Calloway. Professional soloists include Jonathan Ten Brink, baritone, as Elijah; Lucía Elena Sánchez, soprano; Caitlin Hammon Moore, soprano; Neshawn Calloway, mezzo-soprano; Kelly Stultz, contralto; and Harv Wileman, tenor. Elijah will be performed in English.

David Long, the Bach Choir’s artistic director, comments, “Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah depicts events in the life of this Biblical prophet. The composer crafted his text directly from the Old Testament, including selections from: I Kings, II Kings, Isaiah, Psalms, Lamentations, Jeremiah, Job, Malachi, Exodus, and Deuteronomy; as well as Matthew from the New Testament. Faith is the essential subject of the Elijah story. Specifically, he boldly defends belief in Jehovah as the “true” God of Israel and opposes the “false” god, Baal, worshipped by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Elijah’s prophecy that God would punish Israel for breaking his covenant comes to pass in the form of a terrible draught and famine. To end the suffering, he proposes a test between the two gods to see which is more powerful. When Jehovah triumphs, Elijah is vindicated, the draught ends, and the covenant is restored. Faced with persecution by the angry Queen Jezebel, Elijah descends into despair; but angels offer comfort, and the divine presence is revealed to him. At the end of his life, a flaming chariot carries the prophet away to heaven in a whirlwind. The text provides many wonderful effects that invite colorful musical treatment, including the reviving of the dead son of a widow, an eruption of flames upon an altar, a terrific storm that arrives to end a devastating drought, and the prophet’s fiery ascent into heaven.”

Long continues, “Mendelssohn has an important connection with our namesake, J.S. Bach, in that he was instrumental in the revival of interest in Bach’s music, conducting the first performance of the St. Matthew Passion nearly 80 years after the composer’s death. Another interesting side note is that the soprano part, including the aria that opens Part II, ‘Hear ye, Israel; hear what the Lord speaketh,’ was written for the famed 19th century opera star, Jenny Lind, also known as the ‘Swedish Nightingale,’ who was very close to Mendelssohn and performed the work several times, both during his life and following his untimely death.”

The Chattanooga Bach Choir’s performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah is made possible in part with funds from the Tennessee Arts Commission and ArtsBuild. The Chattanooga Times Free Press is the Bach Choir’s exclusive print media sponsor.