Sing Handel’s “Messiah” with the Tabernacle Choir this Easter

  • 16 February 2016

Gerry Graves, a retired member of the choir, portrays George Frideric Handel, seated at a desk composing what would be a 260-page score, during a performance of Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and Bells on Temple Square at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City Thursday, December 17, 2015.   Photo by Chris Samuels, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Watch the live stream on lds.org or the choir's website on March 25 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Reserve free tickets beginning February 23, 7:00 p.m., at lds.org/events.

Celebrate the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ this Easter by watching—or singing along with—a performance of Handel’s Messiah.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will perform Messiah  on March 24 and 25, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. mountain daylight time. The performance will be streamed live March 25, at 7:30 p.m. on LDS.org, the Mormon Channel, and mormontabernaclechoir.org/messiah.

Sing with the choir—online

Wherever you are in the world—even in the comfort of your own home—you're invited to sing Messiah with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during the Internet live stream of the performance. Watch it on LDS.org, mormontabernaclechoir.org/messiah, or the Mormon Channel, on Friday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. MDT, then share your thoughts on the experience using #MessiahLive. For a more immersive experience, download a PDF of the lyrics and program from the choir's website.

Using the live stream, various community, music, and churches plan to sing Messiah at various locations throughout the world. According to Ron Jarrett, the choir’s president, “We have heard from people in several countries who are organizing events. This is a wonderful way to celebrate the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ with all Christians of the world.”

The live stream will be available from the choir’s website through Monday, April 4, at 11:59 p.m., to accommodate times zones and schedules. It will not be downloadable.

Virtual Hallelujah choir

The choir and orchestra are also asking fans to sing Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus in the world’s largest virtual Hallelujah choir by uploading their recordings on YouTube. The performances will be featured in a video that will be released on March 13, 2016, on the website FollowHim.mormon.org. Find instructions, sheet music, a music video, and the submission form now on virtualchoir.mormon.org.

Tickets to the live event

Performances of Messiah will be heard in three locations on March 24 at 7:30 p.m. MDT: 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, February 23, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. MST exclusively through Temple Square Events at lds.org/events.

Metropolitan Opera soprano Erin Morley, who performed with the choir during the 2015 Christmas concert, will again sing with the choir in March, along with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, tenor soloist Paul Appleby, and bass-baritone Joseph Barron. Barron will also appear with the Choir and Orchestra on the Sunday, March 27, Music and the Spoken Word broadcast.

Tickets to the choir's 2014 performance of the popular oratorio sold out in just 7½ minutes, and concert organizers kindly scrambled to provide additional ways for people to view the performance online and on large screens in nearby buildings.

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 its extraordinary history.

A brief history

In 1741, George Frideric Handel, in debt and suffering from rheumatism, completed the 260-page score to Messiah in just 24 days so that it could be ready to debut for Easter in Dublin, Ireland, as a charity event to raise money to free paupers in debtors’ prison.

Excepts from the oratorio were performed at another charity performance in 1749 in London, this time to raise money to complete the construction of a hospital that cared for babies born out of wedlock. The first full performance was in 1750. The oratorio was then performed in the hospital's chapel every year for more than 20 years, slowly gaining popularity and renown.

Messiah in Church messages 

The Easter concert is just one of several ways the Church has featured Handel's masterpiece. Inspired by the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah, the Church's 2016 Easter initiative Because He Lives will witness of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and will include a social media collaboration with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on FollowHim.mormon.org.

The 2015 Christmas video, “A Savior Is Born,” was similarly inspired by Handel's Messiah. And during the choir and orchestra's 2015 Christmas concert, the origins of Handel’s Messiah were depicted, showing how early performances helped bless the poor and needy.

Mack Wilberg conducts a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and Bells on Temple Square at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City Thursday, December 17, 2015. Photo by Chris Samuels, Deseret News.

Recordings

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will release a new recording of Handel’s oratorio in an edition by Mack Wilberg. Two versions will be available: the complete oratorio containing the full work on two CDs with a bonus DVD, and a 60-minute highlights version containing selected choruses and solos. The official release date is March 4, 2016. Learn more on mormontabernaclechoir.org/messiah

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform George Frideric Handel's Messiah, conducted by Mack Wilberg, for an Easter concert at the Salt Lake Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 18, 2014. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.