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Joint performance of 'Messiah' to be held at River Campus

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Chorus members followed conductor Steve Hendricks during rehearsal for Handel's "Messiah" on Monday at the Bedell Performance Hall. There will be concerts Friday and Saturday.
(Kit Doyle)
Every year the joint holiday concert featuring Handel's "Messiah" with the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra, the University Choir and the Choral Union is a big event -- the most popular concert on the symphony series.

This year, with the concert's first time in the new Bedell Performance Hall at the River Campus, the musical directors are expecting it to be even more popular. Instead of one night, there are two, Friday and Saturday.

And for the first time they'll perform the Christmas classic in an actual performance hall, not a sonically unbalanced auditorium.

"Here, everything is enhanced. Music comes to life there," said Dr. Sara Edgerton, director of the symphony orchestra.

Already, the symphony orchestra has seen the benefits -- its first concert of the year, a performance featuring Liesl Schoenberger, was sold out in November. Before moving to the Bedell, the orchestra had trouble filling seats.

Both "Messiah" performances are almost sold out, the River Campus box office reports.

Edgerton said from the sound to the more accessible facilities, the Bedell is a better concert experience all around.

University Choir and Choral Union director Steve Hendricks also loves the new performance hall, and said this performance of "Messiah" will be better than the past thanks to the new facilities.

"We had our dress rehearsal last night, and the sound is incredible," Hendricks said Tuesday. "You can hear the choir very, very clearly, the orchestra sounds wonderful; people will be pleasantly surprised by how it's going to sound in there."

The symphony orchestra will lead off the night with a performance of Haydn's "London" Symphony No. 104. Edgerton said the two pieces tie in nicely, given that both Haydn and Handel have similar, expressive styles and both were Germans who spent time in London.

The Friday and Saturday performances will be the last concerts by either group in the Bedell until 2008.


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