The Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Chorus present Messiah by Candlelight


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News release from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra:

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Chorus Present Messiah by Candlelight
Handel’s Most Famous Work Presented in a Candlelit Performance

(November 20, 2015) – The Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Chorus will present Handel’s oratorio Messiah at the First Wayne Street United Methodist Church on December 18, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. The performance will be conducted by music director Andrew Constantine and features guest vocal soloists soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg, mezzo-soprano Angela Young Smucker, tenor Hoss Brock, and bass David Govertsen. The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus is led by chorus director Benjamin Rivera.

The excellent acoustics and lovely sanctuary of First Wayne Street United Methodist Church provide the perfect backdrop for Handel’s most recognizable and revered masterpiece, performed here to the warm glow of candlelight. Audiences will experience the “Hallelujah” Chorus and other unforgettable favorites in a unique holiday experience never to be forgotten.

An oratorio is a large musical composition for orchestra, chorus, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio also includes various distinguishable characters and arias. However, opera is musical theatre, while oratorio is strictly concert music—without staging. In an oratorio generally there is little or no interaction between the characters, and no props or elaborate costumes.

Written in just 24 days in 1741, Messiah was conceived as an oratorio because the staged Italian operas Handel was composing at the time started to wane in popularity with the voracious English music loving public. Based on scriptural texts compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer, Messiah was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742 to a modest reception. It took one year for the work to receive its London premiere, and even more time to gain widespread popularity, but now is one of the most frequently performed choral works in all of Western music.

“Messiah is a masterpiece of Western civilization. The fact that Handel wrote it at such breakneck speed – in just over 3 weeks – makes it an even more remarkable work. It is full of great tunes and memorable moments. What a thrill it will be to perform the work in such a lovely sacred setting, with marvelous soloists and our dedicated Chorus, all to the warm glow of candlelight,” Constantine said.

The Philharmonic Chorus has been hard at work preparing Messiah since early September with chorus director Benjamin Rivera.

“This work is quite difficult to perform, as there are plentiful challenges for even the finest choirs; however, the work’s dramatic arc and emotional content draw the audience in, past the technique and into the expressive nature of Handel’s masterpiece,” Rivera said.

Soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg has been called “an astonishing singer'” by the Chicago Tribune, performing as a soloist in the United States, Europe, Asia, South America, and the Arab Emirates. She has sung lead roles such as Aci in Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, “Tirsi” in Clori, Tirsi e Fileno, and Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine in the International Chamber Opera Festival (The Netherlands).

Mezzo-soprano Angela Young Smucker has earned high praise from the Chicago Tribune for her “rich, secure mezzo-soprano” and the Cleveland Plain Dealer describing her “powerful stage presence.” She has worked with Grammy-winning ensembles: Chicago Symphony Chorus, Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, and Conspirare. Smucker holds degrees from Valparaiso University and the University of Minnesota, and was awarded acceptance into the 2015 NATS Intern Program while serving as an adjunct voice instructor at Valparaiso University.

Tenor Hoss Brock has received praise for his “plaintive, clarion singing”, his voice described as “full of nuance and depth.” A versatile singer, Brock appears regularly as a guest artist with chamber ensembles including the Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Newberry Consort. His solo appearances with the Grant Park Music Festival include Poulenc’s Gloria, Stravinsky’s Les Noces, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance and Mikado, Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins, and the Midwest premiere of MacMillan’s Quickening.

Bass David Govertsen, a Chicago native, made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2011 as the Herald in Otello with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti. Recently he stepped in on short notice at Lyric Opera of Chicago to perform opposite Renée Fleming and Anne Sophie von Otter in Richard Strauss’ Capriccio. Govertsen is an alumnus of Santa Fe Opera and Central City Opera, and holds degrees from Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, and the College of DuPage.

Tickets for “Messiah by Candlelight” are $35 and conveniently available for purchase online at Purchases can also be made in person at The Phil Box Office, located at 4901 Fuller Drive, or by phone at 260-481-0777. The Phil Box Office is open Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or Saturday (Masterworks and Pops concert days only) from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. Tickets are also available for purchase one hour prior to the concert at the venue. Full program and series information is available at


About the Fort Wayne Philharmonic
Fort Wayne Philharmonic Now performing its 72nd season, The Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s mission is to inspire and foster a lifelong love of classical music through performance and education. The Phil is led by music director Andrew Constantine. The Phil is a member of the League of American Orchestras and a funded member of Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, the Indiana Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts. For additional information visit


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