A Contemporary Arrangement by Mark Edwards
The Enduring Holiday Classic Transformed
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Messiah 2.0 is a 90-minute, traditional performance of Handel’s masterpiece accompanied by a six-piece contemporary instrumental ensemble. It includes the major selections from Parts I, II and III. While the original score remains virtually unchanged, the unified transformation is exceedingly powerful, distinctive, and reverent. It is fun to perform and a delight for audiences of all ages.
Why should I consider programming Messiah 2.0?
There will always be traditional seasonal performances of Messiah, whether in the particularly long three-hour form dutifully executed in its entirety or in some director determined arbitrarily abbreviated version thereof. With the latter, you lose the flavor and feel of the complete work (which truly needs to include the huge “Amen” finale).
So in the interest of creating a program faithfully representing this oratorio, but not overbearing in length, Mark Edwards has carefully selected some of the most popular and significant sections in their proper order from the overture to the grand finale. In addition, modern audiences are almost entirely acclimated to amplified musical concerts. With the advent of the electric guitar and other instruments, it seemed only logical to create an arrangement that allows these players to participate and respectfully take the original masterpiece to the next level.
How big does the chorus need to be?
Messiah 2.0 can be performed with twenty singers. However, with properly applied sound equipment, size is not an issue and it can be done with perhaps a dozen singers. With the chorus, the more the merrier! Your maximum limitation depends on the size and accommodations of your performing area.
How big does the orchestra need to be?
If you decide not to use the Orchestra Reduction part, then you will need an ensemble of approximately ten passionate string players - 1st violin (3), 2nd violin (3), viola (2), violoncello and upright bass. Beyond that, the Prout score provides for the addition of pairs of woodwinds (clarinet, flute, oboe, bassoon), two French horns, tympani, two trumpets, three trombones, and pipe organ (added in approximately that order). The arranger in performances has also included a tuba player who reads from the bass clef pedal stave of the organ part. Don’t forget about the solo Baroque trumpeter featured in “The Trumpet Shall Sound” (however this part is also cued in the Keyboard book just in case).
What instrumental doubling is required for the feature performers?
The Guitar 1 book is primarily written for the electric guitar with several movements featuring classical guitar, and a special cameo passage for a four string tenor banjo (tuned D-G-B-E). If necessary, the book could be split by two guitarists specializing in electric and classical styles, respectively. The Keyboard part can be totally performed on a single professional 76-key keyboard; the following instruments are listed as being optional: acoustic piano (recommended), Fender Rhodes (or second keyboard), and Minimoog. The Drum Set drummer needs a full five-piece kit with three cymbals, hat, and piccolo snare on the side.
The Guitar 2 book only requires an amplified steel-string acoustic. The Electric Bass part is written for a 5-string model low-B, and does not require the player to double on Upright Bass. The Percussion book calls for a variety of mounted and hand toys, several suspended cymbals, and a large gong.
Note: The above descriptions apply to performances of the Full Production.
What are the basics I need to know regarding sound reinforcement?
There are basically three modes of application concerning the sound that your audience will hear. Acoustic sound is what has been traditionally purveyed in concert settings prior to the invention of the microphone. However, as soon as you add a drummer, you will either a). require him or her to play softly in order to maintain balance with the rest of the ensemble, or b). supplement the other players with some sound reinforcement to re-establish a degree of balance or c). secure a competent sound technician to connect everyone into a system (sound board console) where the final output is expertly mixed for a very enjoyable concert-going experience. All three are possible with a Messiah 2.0 production.
From start to finish, I was impressed by the magnitude of the sound that I can only describe as Handel playing a classic arena-rock concert, the fluid melding of disparate musical styles, and the quality selection of local performers. To my delight, it included all of the musical highlights of the original. It was an overall enjoyable experience that I would recommend to everyone.
Piano Faculty, The Community Music School
Messiah 2.0 is a Whole New Way of Hearing Handel’s Masterpiece!
Ben Andrews, Percussionist
(drum set – 2012 performance)
Fan of 2.0 (from Facebook)
I … appreciated the quality and creativity of each arrangement. You have produced an excellent piece with each movement being performed very tastefully.
William F. DeSanto, D.M.A
Music Department Chair, University of Valley Forge
This arrangement really “rocks” but still honors the original…
(tenor – 2012 performance)
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