The Bucks County Choral Society will highlight its 50th Anniversary Season with a performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s signature work, “Elijah,” at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 26, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 235 E. State St., Doylestown.
Artistic Director Thomas Lloyd will conduct the combined forces of the Choral Society, Bucks County Community College Concert Choir (Rochelle Reed, director), Princeton Girlchoir (Lynnel Joy Jenkins, director), Symphony in C, and a cast of soloists led by baritone Stephen Powell in the title role, along with soprano Eva Rae Martinez, mezzo-soprano Suzanne DuPlantis, and tenor James Reese.
“Elijah” was first performed by the Choral Society for its 10th anniversary season in 1983 under the direction of the late Elma Heckler. It was performed a second time during the 2001-2002 season, under current Artistic Director Thomas Lloyd.
One of the most beloved works in the choral/orchestral repertoire, “Elijah” is a stirringly dramatic work with the chorus taking a variety of contrasting roles. A number of its choruses have become staples of church and synagogue choirs as well, such as “He watching over Israel.”
“Elijah” was the crowning work of the short but impactful life of Felix Mendelssohn, not only as a composer, but as a builder of the choral and orchestral life enjoyed today. He asked a colleague, “Do you think it possible that ‘Elijah’ may become something important and personal for every member of the community?”
Reconnecting with his deep Jewish roots through the Enlightenment philosophy of his grandfather, Moses Mendelssohn, he sought to present the Jewish and Christian traditions side by side. In so doing he hoped to counter fear and judgment with trust in a merciful and unifying God.
The quartet of featured soloists brings together singers at both the beginning and pinnacle of their performing careers. Powell has been acclaimed in the United States and around the world. Having recently been nominated for Grammy awards for two solo albums, he brings a unique artistic sensitivity, experience, and maturity to the demanding role of “Elijah.”
In contrast, Martinez is at the beginning of a very promising career in which the Choral Society played a small part. As a Central Bucks West senior, Martinez was the 2018 winner of the Voices of the Future competition. Part of that reward was an appearance with the Choral Society as soloist in the Fauré “Requiem.”
Now as senior at the Manhattan School of Music, she has won several awards and performed leading opera roles and solos with orchestra. Martinez will sing the famous “Hear ye, Israel,” composed by Mendelssohn specifically for the famous Swedish soprano Jenny Lind.
Symphony in C is one of the leading young professional orchestras in the Atlantic region, filled with recent graduates of Curtis, Juilliard, and other top conservatories.
This concert is sponsored by BBL&B Charitable. For discounted advance sale tickets and information, go to buckschoral.org.