Published: April 16, 2018

Mendelssohn’s powerful 'Elijah' to be performed at MSU

Contact(s): Michael Sundermann College of Music office: (517) 353-2043, Beth Brauer-Delaney Communications and Brand Strategy

Felix Mendelssohn’s epic "Elijah" is among the most revered oratorios of the 19th century, and artists from the Michigan State University College of Music will bring it to life for a one-time performance at the Cobb Great Hall of Wharton Center at 8 p.m., April 28.

The MSU Symphony Orchestra leads the way with guest conductor David Rayl, professor of music, director of choral programs and associate dean for graduate studies and research in the college. Rayl will also lead the Chorale Union, State Singers and University Chorale, bringing nearly 200 singers to the state.

Featured soloists are four MSU College of Music voice faculty led by baritone Mark Rucker in the role of Elijah. Key roles will also be sung by professors Melanie Helton, soprano; Jane Bunnell, mezzosoprano; and tenor Richard Fracker. Undergraduate soprano Jillian Brennan will sing the role of The Youth.

In "Elijah," Mendelssohn weaves together a rich tapestry of movements for soloists, chorus and instrumental forces to tell the story of the Old Testament prophet’s confrontation with King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Each of its two parts moves through a series of beautifully crafted scenes toward a grand climax.

The work is noted for its beautiful, lyric arias for soloists and its exciting choruses (particularly the scene in which Elijah challenges the worshippers of Baal). Using Biblical texts, the composer is said to have seen the joining of powerful music with words as a holy undertaking.

Along with Handel’s "Messiah" and Haydn’s "The Creation," it is considered among the three greatest oratorios in the repertoire.

“It is an honor to lead my outstanding faculty colleagues and our outstanding choral and orchestral ensembles in this great, theatrical work,” Rayl says. “Although Mendelssohn’s name is not associated with opera, this work is as exciting as any opera by Verdi or Puccini.”

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (age 60 and older), and can be purchased online, at the College of Music box office, by calling (517) 353-5340 or in person at 333 W. Circle Drive, East Lansing, or at the door at Wharton Center.

There will be a $3 restoration fee for tickets purchased at Wharton Center, via phone, box office or the website. This is not a College of Music fee.

This performance will be live streamed at The College of Music Livestreamchannel is generously sponsored by the MSU Alumni Association.

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