Moving the event to the much-larger Conference Center was never an option, said general manager Scott Barrick. "A, it's not the right venue, and B, [the concerts are] part of the choir's preparation for the recording." He added that the overflow seating will accommodate a roughly equivalent number of concertgoers as would another night in the Tabernacle.
The choir's music director, Mack Wilberg, said he's been thinking about presenting "Messiah" for several years. "It's closely aligned with who we are and fits in nicely with our mandate and mission," he said. The conductor believes this recording brings "something unique" to the current market. Large-scale performances of "Messiah," which became the norm about 40 years after the oratorio's 1742 premiere and continued in vogue for two centuries, are harder to find nowadays.
"Twenty to 25 voices, no matter how wonderful and pristine, cannot bring that visceral power" that a choir of 360 can, he said.
Preparing the oratorio for performance required Wilberg to prepare a new edition of the score. "I've tried to infuse as much modern musical scholarship as I can; the tempi are a little brisker than what people might have heard in the past," he said, pointing out that he has not rearranged Handel's music, but made adjustments in orchestration, note values and breath markings. "I had to study every note, vocal and instrumental, and make decisions about probably everything," he said. "It brought me a renewed appreciation for the piece. It's a really remarkable piece."
The trumpet shall sound
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir presents Handel's unabridged "Messiah."
With • Orchestra at Temple Square, conductor Mack Wilberg, soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, tenor Brian Stucki and baritone Kyle Ketelsen
When • Friday and Saturday, April 18 and 19, 7:30 p.m.
Where • Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square
Running time • 2 ½ hours, including two brief pauses
Tickets • The free tickets have been distributed, but there will be a standby line at the Temple Square flagpole. In addition, the concert will be simulcast at two nearby venues: the Conference Center Theater and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building's Legacy Theater.
Watch at home • Friday's performance will be streamed live at http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/messiah and available on demand at http://www.youtube.com/mormontabchoir thereafter until 11:59 p.m. Monday.