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The choirs of First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica and Westwood United Methodist Church will combine to present Mendelssohn’s oratorio, “Elijah,” on Sunday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica (1008 11th Street). The combined choir of 70 voices will be joined by full orchestra and a cast of nine soloists, including baritone Patrick Blackwell singing the role of Elijah. Beloved since its first performance in England in 1846, Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” is often mentioned alongside Handel’s “Messiah” and Haydn’s “The Creation.” All three are popular examples of oratorio, a musical form similar to opera. For “Elijah,” Mendelssohn compiled a libretto depicting dramatic events from the life of the prophet as found in the Bible in the books of 1 and 2 Kings.
Patrick Blackwell (Elijah) is a rising star in the world of opera. He made his Los Angeles Opera debut in 2014 as Lieutenant Ratcliffe in Britten’s “Billy Budd,” and returned in this season’s “The Ghost of Versailles.” He has sung with opera companies around the world, including Chicago Lyric Opera and New York City Opera. He is a native of Washington, D.C., and studied at the Juilliard School in New York City. Other soloists performing various roles include Stephanie Aston, soprano; Barbara Smith, soprano; Jessica Mirshak, mezzo-soprano; Erin Wood, mezzo-soprano; Kirk Garner, tenor; Matthew Miles, tenor; William Trabold, baritone; and Michael Turnblom, baritone. Sharing the conducting duties are the directors of the two choirs, Dr. James E. Smith (Santa Monica) and Gregory Norton (Westwood).