Choirs, orchestra to perform Handel’s Messiah


Dr. Eliezer Yanson directs rehearsal for Handel’s Messiah, typically performed every four years at BJU. Photo: Ethan Rogers

Three of BJU’s choirs, along with the BJU Symphony Orchestra, will perform a Bob Jones University Christmas tradition tonight at 7:30 in Rodeheaver Auditorium: a collaborative performance of Handel’s Messiah.

Messiah, an oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel in only 24 days, is a large-scale vocal and orchestral work narrating the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Charles Jennens wrote the libretto (the text of a long vocal work) based on the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.

Usually performed every four years, BJU’s performances of Messiah use the traditional cutting made by the late Dr. Dwight Gustafson, former dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication. Rather than performing the original two-and-a-half hour piece, this cutting includes the famous arias (a long, accompanied song for a solo voice) and choruses typically found in Messiah performances.

Dr. Eliezer Yanson, faculty member in the Division of Music and director of the concert, said this year the Collegiate Choir will join the Chorale and Concert Choirs on the vocals, bringing the total number of choir members to 150. To round out the choir, four soloists will be featured throughout the piece. Mrs. Pam Dunbar of the voice faculty and Miss Rachel Dahlhausen, resident supervisor for Margaret Mack, will sing soprano and alto respectively. BJU graduate Mr. Jason Rush will sing tenor, and Dr. David Parker of the voice faculty will sing bass-baritone. In addition to the vocals, the BJU Symphony Orchestra has more musicians than in previous years, providing a fuller, richer sound.

Dr. Yanson is excited to present the Messiah to this year’s BJU family and members of the Greenville community. “I first sang Messiah under Dr. Dwight Gustafson in 1997 when I was a senior here at BJU,” Yanson said. “Seventeen years later, I get the opportunity to conduct Messiah with a choir of 150, four gifted soloists and an amazing orchestra. I’m thankful to God for this incredible opportunity.”

Messiah will be performed Dec. 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Rodeheaver Auditorium. Tickets are not required for the event, and the performance is open to the public.