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Judas Maccabeus, St. Louis, MO, Dec 20

For most of its 33 years of existence the St. Louis Circle of Jewish Music has sponsored an annual Chanukah choral festival. This year we begin a new tradition in collaboration with the suburban University City Symphony Orchestra - a "Judas Maccabeus" sing-along. Taking place (this year) at United Hebrew Congregation on December 20th, the combined choirs of most of the city's Jewish congregations will collaborate with the Orchestra, directed by Dr. Leon Burke, III, with solos sung by members of the Circle. Audience members may purchase a score for $18 which serves as a ticket for this and all future years, and then may sing along with the on-bima choir.

In researching the program notes I've become further surprised at the story of Handel's writing such a Jewish oratorio. "Messiah" notwithstanding, the vast majority of Handel's oratorios are on subjects from Tanach - "Old Testament" to him - "Deborah," "Israel in Egypt," "Joseph and His Brethren," etc. And "Judas Maccabeus" goes even one step further by NOT being of O.T. provenance, and hence lacking even that relevance for Christians. Apparently there was a political metaphor - a recently suppressed revolution. But I prefer the apocryphal story that Handel was advised to compose for royalty and the aristocracy, but wanted to see seats filled in the theater, and so wrote for the Jews.

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