SALT LAKE CITY — The Temple Square Chorale and the Orchestra at Temple Square will present Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn on Friday, 15 October, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and on Saturday, 16 October, in the Libby Gardner Concert Hall at the University of Utah. Both performances will begin at 7:30 p.m.
The performances, directed by Mack Wilberg, conductor of the Chorale, will feature guest soloists Clayton Brainerd, bass baritone, in the role of Elijah; Jeanine Thames, soprano; Charlotte Paulsen, mezzo-soprano; and Robert MacNeil, tenor. In describing this monumental oratorio, Wilberg said, “This is one of the great choral masterworks with some of the most beloved solos and choruses in the repertoire. At the time it was written, it was on the cutting edge of musical composition, which, interestingly, was at the same time as the pioneers were journeying to this valley.”
Clayton Brainerd has sung leading roles with major orchestras (Boston Symphony, Atlanta Symphony) and major opera companies (Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera) of the world and for such conductors as Seiji Ozawa and Michale Tilson Thomas. Of his performance in “Tristan und Isolde,” the critics said he “sang with supreme dignity and his dark, sharply-focused voice cut right through the orchestra.”
Soprano Jeanine Thames’ interpretation of the operatic and concert repertoire has received great acclaim across America and Europe, notably for her “stratospheric coloratura” which the New York Times says she handles with “spectacular ease and purity.” Charlotte Paulsen has sung operatic roles throughout the United States and abroad and is no stranger to the contralto role in Elijah. She was hailed for her performance in Messiah as “an intense performer, with an unusual and distinctive voice, compelling and enormous in its lower register.” Robert MacNeil has performed in prestigious venues from Carnegie Hall to the Vatican and with such noted companies as the Metropolitan Opera and Los Angeles Opera. The LA Times praised him for his “clarion but well-proportioned tenor.”
Mendelssohn wrote the entire score for Elijah in less than seven months. He conducted the first performance on 26 August 1846 and it was an unprecedented success. No less than four choruses and four arias were encored. Mendelssohn recounted the experience in a letter to his brother: “No work of mine went so admirably the first time of execution, or was received with such enthusiasm by both the musicians and the audience.” A music correspondent in that day was even more moved by the evening, writing: “The last note of Elijah was drowned in a long-continued unanimous volley of plaudits, vociferous, and deafening. … Never was there a more complete triumph; never a more thorough and speedy recognition of a great work of art.” Tragically, it was Mendelssohn’s last major triumph before his early death in 1847.
Free tickets are required for the Friday performance in the Tabernacle and are available to the public at the Conference Center ticket office (door 4) from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and on the Internet (www.lds.org/events). No tickets are required for the Saturday performance at Libby Gardner Concert Hall. The doors at both venues will open at 7:00 p.m., and the length of the performance will be approximately two hours. Seating is limited to persons eight years of age and older.