*The Fordham United Methodist Church will be holding its 10th Anniversary Christmas performance of Handel’s “Messiah” Parts 1, 2 and 3 within the Fordham Sanctuary, located at 2543 Marion Avenue off of Fordham Road in the Bronx on Sunday, December 12 at 2:00 p.m.
The “Messiah” will be conducted by Dr. John C. Banks and features The Fordham Choir, Soloists and The Ensemble Sêpia Orchestra. The proceeds will support 11 historical black colleges which include Bennett College, Bethune-Cookman University, Claflin University, Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Rust College, Huston-Tillotson University, Meharry Medical College, Paine College, Philander-Smith College, Wiley College and African University in Zimbabwe.
George Frideric Handel was born in Germany in 1685. He studied in Naples becoming an accomplished harpsichordist. While in Naples he began to write operas. He moved to England where in continued writing operas and began composing for the royal Court. He composed a piece called Water Music which he composed for King George 1. However it was his Messiah composition (which he wrote in 24 days) that became his most renowned and popular composition. Since illiteracy was rampant during Handel’s time he composed Messiah as more of a teaching vehicle than an entertainment piece.
“I am pleased Handel said that the purpose of the Messiah was to teach not entertain. That is the purpose and what we try to accomplish at Fordham United Methodist Church which is a teaching institution,” said Rev Leo W. Curry the Church’s pastor. “While it is said Handel wrote his composition in 24 days it will not take us only 24 days to learn it” said Dr. John C. Banks. “This has been a labor of love and one of sacrifice that has been 10 years in the making for Fordham. It is the first time we put together parts 1, 2 and 3. We know Part 1 as the Christmas portion, Part 2 deals with the death of Jesus and Part 3 with Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven. This is not only a special work as far as a religious message, it is also a difficult work in terms of musicianship and musicality is concerned” commented Dr. Banks, the Music Director who will be conducting the orchestra.
“The Ensemble Sêpia Orchestra, local New York musicians, the Fordham Choir supplemented by some guests and its soloists will be performing the choral parts in addition to harpsichord and organ. We anticipate that the show which starts at 2pm will end at 5pm” continued Dr. Banks who practices a wide music diversity which includes Negro Spirituals, anthems, light gospel from the 50s, 60s and 70s and orchestral pieces.
“Being the pastor of Fordham United Methodist Church has taught me a lot,” said Rev Curry who has been at Fordham for 23 years. “The members have taught me to be humble and realize that it’s all a gift. Life itself, our Sanctuary, the beautiful music we have and our talented people are all gifts. I try to teach my members that prayer is the first line of defense. We pray and give thanks in all things and remember that every good gift comes from the Father above. Our ability to have the resources to present the 10th Anniversary and presentation of Messiah is a magnificent example of God’s abundant grace and lavish love. We have a new book out on Handel’s Messiah’s which the author calls Handel’s Messiah Comfort For God’s People,” added Rev. Curry who also offers the Christmas Eve Candle Light Service during Christmas time.
There will be a gala reception following the show.
Many of the soloists performing for Fordham’s 10th Anniversary has performed professionally, including engagements at City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and Merkin Concert Hall. Tickets for Messiah are $75, suggested donation, and can be purchased by calling the church at (718) 367-9347. Additional information can be obtained by visiting www.fordhamumc.org. Portions of the ticket revenue will be used to support The Annual Black College Fund Luncheon that takes place in New York City.