Sheepscot Valley and St. Cecilia Choruses to Perform Mendelssohn’s Elijah
The Sheepscot Valley Chorus and St. Cecilia Chamber Choir join forces to present Felix Mendelssohn’s epic oratorio Elijah on Saturday, April 25 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, April 26 at 3:00pm, at St. Patrick Church in Newcastle. Gathered under the baton of Artistic Director Linda Blanchard, the combined group will be accompanied by the a professional orchestra and five outstanding soloists for this magnificent work — composed in the spirit of Baroque masters Bach and Handel.
Performing the title role is New York baritone Josh Miller, a native of Southwest Harbor. Lauded for his meticulous characterization and rich, resonant voice, Miller is joined by four exceptional soloists: soprano Mary Sullivan; mezzo-soprano Andrea Graichen; tenor David Myers, Jr., of Waldoboro; and boy soprano Benjamin Pugh of Alna. Don’t miss this exciting concert.
Elijah is deemed by many to be one of the most spectacular large-scale choral works ever composed. The extraordinary work follows dramatic events in the life of the Biblical prophet, whose spirit is tested by the transgressions of his people, the Israelites, who have suffered from years of drought. The Israelites are lured into worshipping their queen’s Pagan god, Baal, so Elijah oversees a contest between the priests of Baal and those of God to see who will succeed in sending down sacred fire to burn the sacrificial bull. Elijah taunts the worshippers of Baal, whose god is unresponsive, and then calls down fire from heaven. The prophets of God kill Baal’s priests, and the drought ends. But the Queen accuses Elijah of conspiring against Israel, and the people turn against him.
Pursued by the Queen’s soldiers, Elijah flees for his life into the dangerous wilderness. There, angels guard his safety and sing songs of comfort, including the beautiful trio, “Lift Thine Eyes,” and perhaps the most famous piece from the oratorio, “He, Watching Over Israel.” Longing for God’s presence, Elijah encounters dramatic forces of nature, including earthquake, mighty winds and raging fire, but ultimately perceives God in a “still, small voice.” In a final dramatic scene, the chorus tells us that Elijah breaks forth “life a fire,” his words “like burning torches.” The prophet ascends Mount Sinai in triumph and is carried to heaven in a whirlwind, riding in a chariot of fire.
Tickets are available in advance in Damariscotta at Maine Coast Book Shop, in Boothbay Harbor at Sherman’s Books and Stationery, in Wiscasset at Treats, and online at ceciliachoir.org.