“Messiah” set to return to Clayton Center for the Arts

A beloved Maryville College tradition is the production of George Handel’s “Messiah.” 

“Messiah” consists of three sections, all of which contain vocal soloists and an orchestral background. Each section signifies a period in the story of Christ, including his birth, sacrifice and resurrection. The entire program, written in just 24 days, lasts approximately three hours.

Amy Lundell, Maryville College Archivist, described “Messiah” as a traditional event that has cultivated community at Maryville College. 

“It is an opportunity for multiple generations to perform together in one of the great musical works of the last 300 years,” Lundell said. Lundell herself has taken part in several performances of “Messiah”. 

Lundell said that the original organizer of the “Messiah” production at Maryville College, J. Alvin Keen, planned for the production to be a recurring tradition within the community. 

The Maryville College choir and orchestra poses in 1939 after their “Messiah” performance. Photo courtesy of Maryville College. 

“Messiah” has prevailed for 91 years at Maryville College, a constantly changing campus community and world crises. Seasoned faculty and staff are well acquainted with its significance, including Dr. Ace Edewards, Maryville College Community Orchestra Conductor.

When he was younger, Edewards participated in a chorus performance of the show and even had the chance to sing his mother’s vocal score from her rendition of the same piece.

“Messiah” consistently draws a large audience from the Maryville College community, filling the Clayton Center and overflowing to chairs outside. Despite its religious origins, the performance attracts people of diverse faiths and beliefs.

To Edewards, the performance’s appeal is the hope and happiness it evokes, especially after times of trouble. Without fail, it earns a standing ovation.

Tickets for “Messiah” are currently available on the Clayton Center for the Arts website. This year’s performance will take place on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. 

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