I just finished listening to a wonderful rendition of Handel’s Messiah at the Memorial Chapel. Every four years, the Conservatory stages Messiah so every student at Lawrence can experience this transcendent work at least once. There were over 150 vocalists from Lawrence’s three main choirs, plus the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, all under the direction of Rick Bjella, Lawrence’s Director of Choral Studies. With choirs filling the stage and arrayed in both balconies, the concert provided an unforgettable musical experience for those of us lucky enough to find a ticket in the sold-out Chapel.
As magnificent as the performance was, the real thrill for me was knowing that for the first time, all of the solo roles were sung by students–undergraduate students! In the past, these immensely challenging roles have been sung by faculty or guest artists. This year, twelve students had a chance to shine as soloists, and shine they did. What a remarkable musical experience for these young musicians, and what a remarkable musical experience for the audience. The thunderous standing ovation was well-deserved by everyone involved.
This performance also marks the first year Lawrence’s Messiah was broadcast live over WLFM, our web radio station. So joining the sold-out crowd in the Chapel were an addition 164 households from across America and around the globe. We even had one listener in Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh! We have certainly come a long way since Lawrence first performed Messiah in 1914, nearly a century ago. I would like to give Larry Darling, Steve Armstrong, and Alvina Tan a huge round of applause for making this dream a reality– Thanks! Plus I would like to state my strong conviction that Larry has the best radio voice in webcasting!
Mark your calendars for December, 2012, for our next performance of Handel’s Messiah. While you are waiting, I hope you can enjoy at least some of the one thousand concerts and recitals we will be performing at Lawrence in the meantime!
Submitted on Dec. 6th 2008 by
Brian Pertl, Dean, Lawrence Conservatory of Music