More About Messiah 2.0
Messiah 2.0 is a modern interpretation of G.F. Handel’s time-honored oratorio. An oratorio is a large work similar to an opera with solo vocalists, chorus, and orchestra but without acting or scenery. Although it is a staple of the standard classical repertoire, because of the libretto (extracted directly from the Bible) Messiah is also a defining narrative of the prophecy, passion and transfiguration of Jesus Christ, and therefore beloved by Christians worldwide. Consequentially, it is often considered a “holiday” work, although it could appropriately be performed during both the Christmas and Easter seasons.
Sections of the original opus have been selectively omitted. Obscure and usually omitted sections were automatically excluded. This arrangement provides for an approximately ninety minute performance and includes some of the most popular and significant sections from Parts I, II and III.
Conceptually, the arrangement was created to meet specific objectives:
- Handel’s original score is left virtually intact. Chorus and soloists can safely use traditional vocal scores, and most orchestral transcriptions will work perfectly.
- The parts for the three lead contemporary players (Guitar 1, Keyboard and Drum Set) are written at an advanced level to respectfully complement Handel’s original score and make it interesting and fun for serious players. The remaining parts (Guitar 2, Bass and Percussion) also require good, competent players.
- On a grand scale, the use of an actual full or Baroque-sized orchestra makes for a most awe-inspiring production. No orchestra on hand? No problem. Included is an Orchestra Reduction part that is played by an additional keyboardist. It can also be used as reinforcement for the strings if needed or preferred.
- The use of sound reinforcement has become ubiquitous to modern concert-going and worship experiences. Messiah 2.0 is ideal for such applications, especially with larger productions.
- The work is intended to introduce the original to a whole new set of listeners and provide an exciting, devotional, fun, and powerful experience to musicians, singers and audiences who know and love it well.
MEET MARK EDWARDS
Music aficionado Mark Edwards is one of the most active educators and performers in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Known for his intellectual, expressive, and humorous mannerisms, he can be regularly seen playing and hosting events at many of the area’s finest entertainment and concert settings.
Mark received his Bachelor of Science in Music Education degree from West Chester University where he concentrated in both instrumental and vocal fields of study. In 2005, he has retired from service with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with an exceptional twenty-year career as an Institutional Music Teacher at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. During his tenure, he provided comprehensive and innovative programming and activities for the residents who wish to improve themselves through the musical experience. His music program was featured nationally in the October 2002 premiere episode of the VH-1 series Music Behind Bars.
Mark continues to participate within a wide assortment of musical genres – classical, jazz, pop, rock, Gospel, country, and others. He has held the position of artistic director and conductor of the Audubon Symphony Orchestra from 1997 through 2009, and apart from the pandemic period has been the music director and pit orchestra conductor for numerous musical theater productions at Upper Merion High School and with Firebird Children’s Theater in Phoenixville. He currently teaches individual lessons with a variety of instruments (percussion, piano, guitar, brass, woodwinds, and strings). In addition, he provides disc jockey, sound reinforcement, and karaoke services for local festivities and private events, and also enjoys performing as a jazz and pop cocktail pianist and as a rock/pop guitarist and vocalist. He has composed and arranged music for orchestral, band, choral, and jazz ensembles, and has worked in audio editing, recording, and sound engineering.
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.
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