Snyder Memorial Baptist Church provides a lot to our community. Not only is it a place to worship and serve, it also provides musical training, after school care and a venue for top notch performances like the upcoming performance of Elijah on May 2 at 6:30 p.m.

Elijah is considered the greatest work of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809- 1847), a German composer of the Romantic era, born in Hamburg, Germany. Elijah is a dramatic story of the prophet Elijah as he summons the people to righteousness, performs miracles and struggles against idolworshipping. He confronts the wicked queen Jezebel. It ends as Elijah rises to heaven in a fiery chariot. The oratorio, written in two parts, was fi rst performed in August of 1846.

The Snyder performance is a joint project with the Campbell University Choir and the University Choral Society. Choral Society personnel include students, faculty and a core of community singers. The University Choir is comprised of students, most of who are majoring or minoring in music. The Campbell musicians will be joined by the Snyder Memorial Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra. This performance features a 140-voice choir and a 30-piece orchesta.

Dr. Phil Morrow, director of choral activities at Campbell University and Dr. Larry Dickens, minister of music at Snyder Memorial are coordinating and conducting the oratorio.

Some of the local talent includes Sara Barefoot and Faith Dickens. Elijah will be sung by Dr. John Blizzard, professor of voice and artist in residence at Wingate University.

It was quite an undertaking for the church due to the sheer numbers required to fill the choral and musical slots, but the church staff working in concert with the Campbell staff has put together a performance that they believe is not to be missed. According to Dickens, Elijah is one of the most famous and dramatic prophets of ancient Israel. He lived in 875-848 BC. The oratorio focuses on the prophet’s bold stand against the rampant idolatry that had gripped his nation under the corrupt leadership of king Ahab and his wife Jezebel.

“I would say that other than Messiah it is the best known major oratorio — and if you have seen Handel’s Messiah but maybe never been to a performance, this is a great way to do it,” said Dickens. “If you have ever wondered what an oratorio is like, the music here is highly dramatic and engaging. Even if you are not a classical music enthusiast you will be pulled into the experience because of the dramatic nature of the music.”

The work is so powerful in fact, that Dickens has had the pleasure of watching it impact the performers as they have worked putting the piece together. In fact, one of the things he has enjoyed the most has been exposing some people who have never done a major work like this to the joys of classical music and introducing people to classical music that have never really studied it before.

“Sacred classical music, well, much of our classical literature evolved from the church. This experience helped them understand church music history, said Dickens. “Although it is a whole lot of work, seeing the joy of those who get it, who actually get it fi gured out has been great. There is also the deep spiritual element of the life of Elijah he is the best known of all the prophets and seeing the spiritual impact of studying the life of this great prophet I think this has had a spiritual impact for a lot of folks as well.”

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