Messiah Moving to Easter

Oct 9, 2017

After more than 100 years, a Christmas tradition in the Quad Cities is going to move back to when it was originally intended - at Easter. Instead of December, "Messiah" will be performed by the Handel Oratorio Society next March.  

Jon Hurty, director of Choral Activities at Augustana College, and conductor for Messiah each year, says one reason for the change is the college's upcoming calendar change - now on quarters, December is the beginning of a new quarter when students have some free time. But that'll change when the college switches to semesters. 

"Now with the new calendar they will actually be doing finals and final projects and final papers, and all of that right at the time when we're talking about doing these performances."

Hurty says only about 20 per cent of the oratorio is related to Christmas, and the rest to Easter. 

"It's difficult when it's become a tradition here in the Quad Cities to do it at that time of the year. And for some people, that is a part of their Christian celebration so that kind of a change is difficult.

One benefit of the change is there'll be time for 14 rehearsals between now and March 25th, instead of the usual 10 through mid-December.

The Handel Oratorio Society first performed Messiah in 1881, and in April for the first 30 years. It moved to Christmas time in about 1916.