Second coming of the “Messiah”

The Messiah will come to Downtown twice this holiday season, courtesy of the Trinity Choir and REBEL Baroque Orchestra.

The Trinity Choir is known for its annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” which has been broadcast live on the classical radio station WQXR since 2001. The choir has also recorded the piece for NAXOS, a leading classical music label. The REBEL orchestra, which was formed in Holland in 1991 and is named after French Baroque composer Jean-Féry Rebel, has performed alongside the choir since 1998.

“We usually do one performance but because last year’s was packed, we decided to do two,” said promotions associate Donna Presnell.

Another innovation this year will be the use of more than 17 soloists during the performance, a move intended to showcase the vocalists individual gifts. Conductor Owen Burdick will also be using Handel’s final score, which he believes to be closest to the composer’s intentions, instead of the original score from which most modern performances are conducted.

Burdick was quoted, “The most we can hope to achieve is a performance in the spirit of the time as best we understand it from a distance of 264 years from its premiere.”

The Messiah was first performed at Trinity Church in October of 1770, less than a month after it was written. Since then, it has been edited and transcribed in a range of musical styles from jazz and pop combos to full symphonic orchestra. It has been performed by choirs as small as 12 and as large as 1,000.

The performances will be on Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. and Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Trinity Church on Broadway at Wall St. Tickets start at $30 and are available at www.ticketweb.com or by phone at 866-468-7619.

Sunday’s performance will be broadcast live on WQXR, 96.3 FM and Tuesday’s performance will be available on Trinity’s Web site at www.trinitywallstreet.org.

— Priya Idiculla