For Immediate Release


Orange County, Calif.-Nov. 22, 2011-Presented annually by Pacific Symphony, Handel's glorious "Messiah" is not only the most famous oratorio ever written, it is also one of the most dramatic and joyous stories ever told through music. Boasting blazing trumpets, thundering timpani and a chorus of heavenly voices singing a life-embracing "Hallelujah," this once-a-year performance is led by highly-acclaimed American guest conductor, Christian Knapp. With no definitive approach to performing "Messiah," every conductor makes his own mark on the music, keeping the experience fresh year after year. Joining the orchestra to perform some of the most beautiful music ever composed are the Pacific Chorale and world-class vocal soloists-soprano Sari Gruber, mezzo-soprano Malin Fritz, tenor Vale Rideout and bass Nathan Stark. Relevant and timeless, Handel's "Messiah" contains a message of hope and renewal that is as meaningful today as it was the day it was written.

One of several holiday concerts offered by the Symphony, "Messiah" takes place Sunday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Tickets are $25-$100; for more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit
"I firmly believe there is an intrinsic reason why some great works get performed quite often and why we revisit them frequently," says Maestro Knapp. "There is something intangible, yet powerful and universal that brings humanity back to these pillars of beauty and truth over and over again. ‘Messiah' is one of those great masterpieces."

Praising Knapp's leadership of "Messiah," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote, "The combined forces delivered a thoughtful, moving interpretation of the piece that was historically informed and filled with tastefully executed stylistic details."

In May 2009, Knapp stepped in on short notice to conduct Pacific Symphony in a program of Debussy, Prokofiev and Stravinsky, earning a rave review by The Orange County Register's Timothy Mangan, who wrote: "[Knapp] had a party. He danced, swiveled, bobbed, threw himself into it. He took every twist and turn (and there are a lot of them) without a moment's hesitation, like a motorist in a sports car careening down a windy but familiar road."

"Whether a person comes to ‘Messiah' as an expression of their own personal beliefs and creed, or as a depiction of one of the great stories in Western Civilization, in Handel's music there is a universal drama that can speak to us all," continues Knapp. "If the holidays are a time of celebration and reflection on our shared humanity, ‘Messiah' is the perfect expression of these thoughts and hopes. My goal is that the rich drama of the story, from hope to darkness to transfiguration and peace, is what people will come away with in our performance."

One of today's foremost young conductors, Knapp is known for his dynamic stage presence and energy on the podium. He has performed in festivals and concerts throughout the world, conducting the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Civic Orchestra, among many others, and has collaborated with such renowned artists as Mstislav Rostropovich, Itzhak Perlman, Alexander Toradze, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Garrick Ohlsson, Vinson Cole and Pepe Romero. In 2010, Knapp returned to Milwaukee Symphony to lead five performances of Handel's "Messiah."

Handel, arguably the most cosmopolitan and versatile theatrical composer of the Baroque period, was born in Germany in 1685, where he trained-but it was in Italy that he achieved mastery and success in every musical genre, before settling for nearly five decades in England. It was during the latter period that he assimilated all of these countries' musical styles and specialized in operas and oratorios. "Messiah" remains Handel's best-known work, although this was not a status that it enjoyed until the last few years of his life. It was not originally envisaged as a Christmas tradition, but its microcosm of Christian doctrine and faith was intended as a timely thought-provoker for Lent and Easter.