Elijah,was a famous prophet and a wonder-worker in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Ahab (9th century BC), according to the Biblical Books of Kings as well as the Qur'an. According to the Books of Kings, Elijah defended the worship of Yahweh over that of the Phoenician god Baal; he raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and was taken up in a whirlwind (either accompanied by a chariot and horses of flame or riding in it). In the Book of Malachi, Elijah's return is prophesied "before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord," making him a harbinger of the Messiah and the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible. Derivative references to Elijah appear in the Talmud, Mishnah, the New Testament, and the Qur'an.
In Judaism, Elijah's name is invoked at the weekly Havdalah ritual that marks the end of Shabbat, and Elijah is invoked in other Jewish customs, among them the Passover seder and the Brit milah (ritual circumcision). He appears in numerous stories and references in the Haggadah and rabbinic literature, including the Babylonian Talmud.
In Christianity, the New Testament describes how both Jesus and John the Baptist are compared with Elijah, and on some occasions, thought by some to be manifestations of Elijah, and Elijah appears with Moses during the Transfiguration of Jesus.
In Islam, the Qur'an describes Elijah as a great and righteous prophet of God, and one who powerfully preached against the worship of Ba'al.
(the above is re printed from Wikipedia and I can't believe the amount of hyper texting that is going on here!)
So we now know that Elijah is a major prophet with great impact. It is this story that Mendelssohn sets to music and this story that will be performed by the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir and members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Yuri Klaz for their 90th Anniversary Gala - a major event in itself!
I have read that it is often performed in English speaking countries and it was first performed in England and became very popular there but I cannot say that my city of Winnipeg has been a frequent Elijah performer. I have heard it only twice here and have never performed it myself. I am enjoying learning a new work and look forward to the Feb. 24 performance.
Like in Bach's Passions the chorus gets to act out the parts of "the crowd" so in the famous battle between Jehovah and Ba'al it is the chorus who cries out, "Ba'al we cry to thee, Ba'al we cry to thee, hear and answer us! Hear and Answer! This can feel hokey in rehearsals if you are not quite into it but once it is put together with soloists and orchestra I am sure we will be in the right mood to cry out to our Ba'al begging for hm to show himself! Speaking of soloists, they will be Tracy Dahl, Kirsten Schellenberg, Kurt Lehman, and Greg Dahl.
Other portions are a joy to rehearse and I can get into the mood for them even in rehearsal These are the comforting pieces such as, "He Watches Over Israel", "He That Shall Endure to the End", and "Lift thine Eyes"
The copies we are using are old and ragged so that one can frequently hear choristers whispering,"Oh, %hit" as half of their pages land on the floor. So on the "To Do" list this week is repair my copy so no more bending over to retrieve lost pages, finish writing in the bar numbers, and rehearse a few of the trickier parts so I will be completely ready to go by the next rehearsal. In addition to being ragged our scores also have German and English text, and not written in the most clear manner, so you will have choristers singing out "Send" while that may look like an English work it is actually part of the German text so don't sing it! Sometimes your voice part will only have the German and you have to look up or down to another voice part to get your lyrics. I want to go over this at home this week too so that I can sing confidently from now on.
It is a treat to sing with the Philharmonic choir because there is no pressure there for me to lead the section and in fact there are so many others on whom I am leaning.