November 16, 2022

Westminster Symphonic Choir To Sing “Messiah” in Spanish

WESTMINSTER IN NEW YORK: A rehearsal of “El Mesias: Handel’s Messiah for a New World” led by Tyler Weakland, assistant conductor of the Westminster Symphonic Choir. (Photo by Peter G. Borg/Rider University)

Rider University’s Westminster Symphonic Choir, under the direction of Dr. James Jordan, conductor, will perform El Mesías: Handel’s Messiah for a New World on Sunday, November 20 at Christ Church NYC, 524 Park Avenue, in Manhattan. The choir will be joined by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the performance will be led by guest conductor Ruben Valenzuela, artistic director of the Bach Collegium San Diego.

“I am so pleased for Symphonic Choir to be working in collaboration with Maestro Valenzuela and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s on this project,” said Jason Vodicka ’03, ’09, associate dean of Rider’s College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of music education at Westminster Choir College. “Hearing Handel’s Messiah sung in Spanish brings a fresh, new perspective to the work, and the opportunity for our students to work with these world class musicians is second to none.”

In 2020, Bach Collegium San Diego commissioned Mario Montenegro, director of Centro Cultural Tijuana’s choral ensemble, to make a Spanish language translation. Two years later, under Valenzuela’s direction, the Bach Collegium performed El Mesías: Handel’s Messiah for a New World for the very first time.

“In programming for the Westminster Symphonic Choir this year, I wanted to do a work that speaks to our world and our time,” said Jordan. “After looking at the carefully constructed libretto and its musicality for singers, it became clear that this was a project that Westminster must do. And the fact that we are doing it with the extraordinary Orchestra of St. Luke’s in the stunning space of Christ Church NYC, makes quite the package.”

The performance will feature soloists soprano Estelí Gomez, a founding member of the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, as well as three Westminster Choir College alumni — mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford ’03, ’04; tenor Austin Turner ’16; and bass Steven Kirby ’02, ’04. Students from The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and members of the Trenton Children’s Chorus will join the Westminster Symphonic Choir as a chorus for several of the work’s movements. The Orchestra of St. Luke’s will perform on period instruments.

Valenzuela has been an artist in residence at Westminster Choir College for the week leading up to the performance and will give an open lecture on El Mesías and its significance. He delivered a lecture at Rider on November 14, which was livestreamed.

Visit for tickets to the concert.