Classically Trained: 'Messiah in America' recording released

The Orange County Mormon Choral Organization released a recording this week of an epic work performed earlier this year in Costa Mesa.

Recording "Messiah in America," a 34-movement oratorio utilizing four soloists and an astounding 700 musicians, took more than 50 hours.

In June, after the oratorio's April 30 presentation in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, a local contingent of singers and instrumentalists headed to Salt Lake City. Once there, they performed and recorded the work alongside their fellow musicians from the East Valley Mormon Choral Organization, based in the Gilbert and Mesa, Ariz., regions.

Many of the musicians are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The ones from California call the Segerstrom Concert Hall their performance home and usually rehearse near the Mormon temple on Bonita Canyon Drive in Newport Beach.

"Messiah in America" was a memorable listen when I heard it performed in April. Fountain Valley resident Brett Stewart composed the oratorio where one could hear stylistic influences from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and more contemporary eras.

The work's libretto, co-written by Brandon Stewart (Brett Stewart's brother), is based on the Book of Mormon.

"There is no better time to release such a Christ-centered work as 'Messiah in America' than during the Christmas season," Susan Stephensen, executive director of the Mormon Choral Organizations of America, said in a statement. "We are confident that the work will be appreciated by both classical and sacred music lovers, and by professionals in the world of choral and orchestral music."

"Messiah in America" is available on iTunes, and at a local retailers. For more information, visit


The Pacific Chorale's annual Christmas concerts are just around the corner.

On Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. and Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, the group will perform alongside the Pacific Symphony and Southern California Children's Chorus.

John Alexander, who just last month celebrated his 40th-anniversary season as director of the chorus, will conduct both "Tis the Season!" concerts. Tickets start at $20 and can be bought at or by calling (714) 662-2345.

In other Pacific Chorale news, the contracts for President Kelly Ruggirello and Alexander were recently approved for another three years. A press release by the chorale also noted that the Costa Mesa-based ensemble, whose roster numbers nearly 200 singers, has been able to close the last seven seasons in the black, even amid a tough economic climate.


The Newport Beach-based Orange County Women's Chorus also has two concerts coming up.

"Christmas on the Coast" will feature work by West Coast composers, including the premiere of Ruth Huber's treble arrangement of "Winter." The work features text by Shakespeare.

The first concert is Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. at St. George's Episcopal Church & Academy, 23802 Avenida de la Carlota, Laguna Hills. The second is Dec. 18 at 3 p.m. in the Newport Harbor Lutheran Church, 798 Dover Drive, Newport Beach. Tickets for either performance are $20 for adults or $15 for students and seniors.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit or call (949) 451-8590.

BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Daily Pilot and a classically trained musician. Email him story ideas at

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