Handel’s “Messiah” in the Arena in Friedensau

27. Jun. 2023 / Events

On June, 17, 2023, George Frideric Handel's "The Messiah" was performed in the arena at the Friedensau campsite. Under the direction of the regional church musician Wilfried Scheel from Erfurt, more than 100 singers from the Central German Motet Choir and the Regional Choir of the Adventist Church in Berlin-Mitteldeutschland made the arena resound. In addition, 28 musicians from the chamber orchestra of the Berlin-Mitteldeutsche-Vereinigung and four soloists participated in the oratorio.

Handel composed this famous work in 1741 in only 24 days. The oratorio sets to music numerous biblical texts from the Old Testament that point to the Messiah, as well as some texts from the New Testament that describe Jesus' life, death and second coming. The compilation of texts was presented to the composer by Charles Jennens. They span an arc from the announcements of the "Promised One" in the Psalms and prophetic books, through Jesus' birth and life in the Gospels and Pauline Epistles, to texts from Revelation about God's glory and omnipotence.

Handel's "The Messiah" paints a picture for the listener of God's plan for the world. Despair, sorrow and chaos were overcome by Christ, the Messiah, and transformed into joy, hope and a future for humanity through his suffering, death and resurrection. "Come unto him, ye that labour, come unto him, laden with sorrow, for he giveth you rest," reads a duet in the first part. This peace was palpable during the performance in the arena and - like the music of the whole evening - will certainly resonate in the 600 visitors for a while.

One concert-goer, who is a musician himself, commented on the concert: "An impressive work and an impressive performance, by the choir and orchestra consisting entirely of amateurs. To hear and experience a choir in such sonority and in such a place will resonate with me for some time to come." The concert was a special experience not only for the audience but also for the participating musicians, as one chorister who had already experienced the Messiah in a philharmonic concert explained: "The Philharmonie was musically good, but this performance was considerably better because the singers stood behind the text and content. And you could feel that."

Another opportunity to hear Handel's Messiah conducted by Wilfried Scheel will be on October, 21, 2023 at 7.00 pm in the Thomaskirche in Erfurt.

Text: Isabell Schwindt

Bild der THH Friedensau
Soloist Clara-Sophie Rohleder performed the soprano part.
Photo: FAU | Fabian Plietz