Review of Handel’s Easter Messiah, Camerata Singers, March 28, 2015
Directed by Scott Hostetler, Professor of Music at Goshen College
Performance at the Sermon on the Mount Chapel
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Usually we hear the Messiah at Christmas time, but the thematic content its lyrical movements are stunningly anticipatory of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection. In all my professional years I have never heard portions of the Messiah sung during Passion-Easter. And never before has “Messiah” by G.F. Handel touched me so deeply, partly I expect because I’m a biblical scholar and know how the numerous Old Testament texts in the Messiah connect with Jesus’ passion and resurrection. The musical performance was wondrous, professionally outstanding. Precious biblical texts were sung with mood accent of those texts, sparking feelings of infinite majesty, of which God is the ultimate Giver. I am eager to hear Handel’s Easter Messiah again, during Holy Week.

What made this performance outstanding?

  1. Masterful direction by Scott Hostetler
  2. Vibrant acoustics in this chapel setting, where the half-circle audience is close to the performers. This enables seeing the facial expression of most of the musicians.
  3. Carefully selected talented singers, whose musical “offering” was a fragrant sacrifice to God matching in part at least God’s rich Passion sacrifice for us.
  4. The four soloists from the Cleveland orchestra were outstanding. The mezzo soprano’s facial expression while singing the Isaiah 53 texts conveyed the sacred. Her expression matched the somber words she sang.
  5. The printed program enabled listeners to grasp the full meaning of the event. It included an extensive description of The Messiah as an Easter drama, citing New Testament texts to which the Old Testament lyrics pointed as well as historical information about where these portions of The Messiah were first performed—during Passion Week.
Submitted by Willard Swartley
Professor Emeritus of New Testament
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

"Congratulations on a fantastic choir concert today! You had an avid listener in Guang'an, China. I was watching the live stream and had to resist the urge to applaud along with the audience. I loved the animation of all the singers throughout the performance; it was fun to see everyone bobbing their heads and swaying as they were pulled along in Bach's stream of Baroque brilliance! I imagine [the 40-part Spem in Alium] must have been something of a logistical nightmare to coordinate, but it sounded graceful and stress-free. Listening to it was like being adrift in a Renaissance-y ocean with schools of polyphonic fish swimming by." --Sam Smucker

"We always look forward to your concerts. Moving here from Chicago area, we heard many good vocal groups over the years, so this takes their place!" --Erwin & Alta Mellinger

"It was a fantastic concert! St Vincent's was the perfect venue for the music. I would LOVE to hear Camerata there again. Ethereal music -- very strong but sensitive energy throughout -- ebb & flow & depth of music was so well performed and controlled -- well received -- standing ovation. It couldn't have been a better way to round out Mother's Day! I'm still glowing, as you all must be as well." --Colleen White

"Choral music in its finest tradition. Always a blessing to be in the audience." --Jaqueline Himelright

"The music brought tears of joy." --Orv & Myrt Allison

"I loved the program notes to read along with the Requiem! Beautiful!" --anonymous

"Excellent, spiritual understanding of music. Cohesive, intonation perfect. An amazing group of musicians." --anonymous