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EAC offering the annual “Messiah”
[Click Image to Enlarge] EAC offering the annual “Messiah”
By Mylee Mayberry
Thatcher, AZ—On Sunday evening, December 18, 1936, a tradition began that confirms the commitment to culture which is woven into the fabric of the communities of the Gila Valley.
Under the direction of Ben S. Johnson, Handel’s Messiah was presented in the LDS Church building on Church Street in Thatcher, across from where EAC’s Alumni Library sits today. The 65-voice Gila Junior College Choir was augmented by 35 singers from the Gila Valley for this performance which has become, today, the longest-running tradition of annual performance of this beloved oratorio in the western United States.
Early performances were accompanied by organ only. Gradually, strings and other instruments were added until the tradition blossomed into a fully-staged performance with the Eastern Arizona College Orchestra, continuo, and choirs. Over the years, was replaced by piano to accompany the Gila Valley Messiah performance. But now, using EAC’s harpsichord, our performance is especially authentic. At the first performance of Messiah in 1742, Handel conducted the performance from the harpsichord.
During the first London performance of Messiah, King George was so deeply moved by the Hallelujah chorus that he stood as it was sung. King George felt that he was in the presence of his Heavenly King. We invite the Gila Valley audience to continue King George’s tradition and stand as the Hallelujah chorus is sung.
The majestic Biblical text, magnified by Handel’s score, combines to recount the drama of the birth, life, and mission of a boy born as King of Kings and Prince of Peace. This story . . . this drama . . . lies at the heart of this continuing Gila Valley Christmas tradition.
Over 200 musicians will take the stage on Sunday, December 7, 2014, in this beloved traditional performance of Handel’s Messiah. This masterwork defines the spirit of the Christmas season. Please plan to arrive early as a large audience is expected.Admission to the event is free of charge.