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LA chorus and symphony orchestra join forces to present 'Elijah' Sunday

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By Special to the Monitor

The Los Alamos Choral Society, together with members of the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra, is performing Felix Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” at 3 p.m. Sunday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on Canyon Road. The performance will be directed by Mary Place Badarak and features Loren Jacobson as Elijah.Tickets are available at Brownell’s Hallmark and at the door. Admission is $15 for adults/seniors and children and students will be admitted for free.The subject of Elijah had long been dear to Mendelssohn and he had very definite ideas about the subject of Elijah, Badarak said. In 1838 he had enlisted the help of his old friend, Pastor Julius Schubring, in drafting a libretto. He wrote to Schubring, “The dramatic element should predominate. The personages should act and speak as if they were living beings.” However, Schubring disagreed: He clearly felt that the oratorio should be in the nature of a sermon in music, stressing the moral and uplifting aspects of the Old Testament texts, and that any degree of dramatic realism was inappropriate in a sacred work. As a result of these disagreements, the project was once dropped for more than a decade.Then, on June 11, 1845, the Birmingham Festival Committee passed a resolution, which reported, “That it appears to this committee desirable that the services of Dr. Mendelssohn be obtained to act as conductor at the next festival; and that he be requested to consider whether he can provide a new oratorio, or other music, for the occasion.” By the following spring Mendelssohn wrote: “I sit, over both my ears in my ‘Elijah’ and if it turns out only half as good as I often think it will, I shall be glad indeed! The first part will be quite finished within the next few days and a goodly portion of the second part also. I like nothing more than to spend the whole day in writing notes down, and I often come so late to dinner that the children come to my room to fetch me and drag me away by main force.” The first performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah took place on Aug. 26 1846 in Birmingham Town Hall, conducted by the composer. It was an unprecedented success.The Times’ music correspondent was effusive, writing: “The last note of Elijah was drowned in a long-continued unanimous volley of plaudits, vociferous, and deafeningeeMendelssohn descended from his position on the conductor’s rostrum; but he was compelled to appear again, amidst renewed cheers and huzzas. Never was there a more complete triumph; never a more thorough and speedy recognition of a great work of art.”And with this auspicious occasion – a new, golden age of choral music had begun.This is Badarak’s second season as director of the Los Alamos Choral Society. In the summer of 2003, she moved to the high desert of New Mexico near Santa Fe to compose. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition at the University of California, Riverside and her doctorate in music theory is from Northwestern University. Badarak was the founding director of the Santa Cruz Chorale in 1983 and has taught music theory and composition at the University of Northern Iowa, the University of California, Santa Cruz and Georgia State University. Currently, Badarak is the artistic director for Santa Fe Music Works. As a composer, her works have won awards and debuted in recitals at Carnegie Hall. Her choral works are published by G. Schirmer, Hal Leonard Publications and Walton Music and are performed by community choruses and church and school choirs worldwide. Badarak is active in the American Composers Forum, the American Music Center and the College Music Society and is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.