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November 22, 2000


LA CROSSE, Wis.—Celebrate the holidays with the Messiah, a timeless Christmas classic composed by George Frederick Handel and presented by the Viterbo University Music Department at the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m.

This awe-inspiring performance returns to Viterbo University and signals the beginning of the holiday season.  Completed in just 24 days in 1741, Messiah was commissioned for a series of concerts to raise funds for a group of charities in Dublin.  The first performance raised enough money to free 142 people from debtor's prison.  English historian Charles Burney described Handel's work as one which "fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and fostered the orphan."  Although Messiah carried forth the Christian spirit in its charitable ways, it was not well accepted in its time.  The presentation of parts of the New Testament within the context of a theatrical performance and by theater people was thought to be an act of heresy.  Even as late as the mid 19th century, Messiah was thought inappropriate for performance in England’s Westminster Abbey.  Today's Messiah continues to be a powerfully inspiring work that infuses the holidays with joy and wonder.

Both performances of Messiah will feature the Viterbo University Concert Choir and Chorale conducted by Daniel Johnson-Wilmot.  The Music Department will feature many of its ensembles and faculty and student soloists in the annual Christmas Lobby Party following this very special event.

Messiah is part of the Viterbo Bright Star Season and is sponsored by WIZM AM 1410.  Tickets are $13 and $10. For more information, contact the Viterbo University Box Office at 796-3100 or explore the Bright Star Season.

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