April 21, 2009

Performance of oratorio ‘Elijah’ set for April 30

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Elijah is coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale in April.

The SIUC Concert Choir, the SIUC Choral Union and the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra present “Elijah,” an oratorio that Felix Mendelssohn wrote in 1846. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on April 30 at Shryock Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for students. Tickets are available at the door beginning an hour before the concert, or in advance from the SIU Arena or Student Center ticket offices.

The text of the oratorio follows Biblical accounts of the prophet Elijah as presented in 1 Kings and 2 Kings from the Old Testament. The musical style is Baroque, recalling Johann Sebastian Bach, a musician Mendelssohn deeply admired, with an overlay of the Romanticism of Mendelssohn. The piece calls for four soloists, a full symphony orchestra, including an organ, and a chorus.

Elijah is one of the most important Old Testament prophets. Among his adventures are a showdown with the priests of Baal, heavenly visions and miracles and a divine ascent into Heaven.

An oratorio is a musical composition written for orchestra, chorus and soloists. It is similar to an opera. One of the differences is that an oratorio is generally not presented as musical theater the way opera is presented. Another difference is that oratorios, particularly early examples, tend to be religious, specifically Judeo-Christian, in subject.

This is the season finale for the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra. The concert choir will join the SIUC Wind Ensemble for a musical performance tour in China next month.