SATAN'S FALL Will Premiere At The Roxian Theatre With The Mendelssohn Choir In February

By: Dec. 05, 2019
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The tale of Satan's fall from Heaven, as told in John Milton's Paradise Lost, has fascinated readers for centuries. In February 2020, audiences will have the opportunity to experience the timeless story in a powerful new way, when the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (MCP) presents Satan's Fall, composed by Stewart Copeland, former rock drummer and co-founder of the legendary post-punk band The Police.

At 112 years in operation, MCP is Pittsburgh's most celebrated chorus, renowned for its ability to masterfully tackle any genre of choral music, from the traditional to the most avant-garde. Composed of approximately 150 singers, it is led by Robert Page Music Director Matthew Mehaffey.

Satan's Fall, which will be performed on Feb. 7 and 8, 2020, at the newly restored Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks, is a work for large chorus by Copeland commissioned by an international consortium of choirs, including MCP, Huddersfield Choral Society in the UK, Pepperdine University, Trinity Church Wall Street, Montclair State University and VocalEssence.

Mehaffey was in close communication with Copeland over the past year, working with him in Los Angeles and workshopping the new piece in Pittsburgh, as the latter composed Satan's Fall. Copeland is MCP's current Composer in Residence, a position through which the choir invites composers to blur boundaries of traditional genres and create works for non-traditional venues so that choral performances may be re-imagined for 21st-century audiences.

After Copeland's last concert with The Police in 1984, he began exploring genres beyond rock, going on to become an award-winning composer responsible for some of the film world's most innovative scores. He has described this journey as a 20-year intensive education in how to tell stories with music.

That journey eventually led him into the world of contemporary classical composition, where he has created pieces for orchestra, chamber opera, and ballet. As he ventured deeper, he came to be fascinated by the story of Satan in Paradise Lost.

"In the vast 17th-century epic of John Milton's Paradise Lost, there lives a story within the story," says Copeland. "It concerns the essential prequel to the sacred tale: Why did Satan do it? How and why does Almighty God have an adversary? We get an answer in Books V and VI when we learn of Satan's journey to the dark side and of the mighty battle that cast him out of heaven. Such a story must be told with a heavenly choir!"

Accompanied by a 14-piece ensemble of strings, winds, and of course, percussion, the MCP will unleash that heavenly sound. Audiences can expect to be immersed in the drama and emotion of a truly epic conflict during the 90-minute program. The first half of the evening will set the celestial stage with Copeland himself conducting "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, and sharing the story of creating Satan's Fall. The MCP will also entertain the audience with a version of the famous "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones. The evening's second act contains Copeland's new 35-minute rock oratorio.

Soloists will voice lead roles, including the archangels Raphael and Raphaella who serve as narrators, as well as God, Satan, and the Messiah. Joining the MCP will be guest soloists Nathan Granner and Jamie Chamberlin. Granner is a founding member of the American Tenors, as well as a former performer with Wolf Trap and Glimmerglass Operas and a Metropolitan Opera National Competition winner. Singer and actress Chamberlin has been hailed as a "superhuman soprano" for her performance as Faustine in Copeland's 2018 opera "The Invention of Morel," in which Granner was also a cast member.

Mehaffey says of Satan's Fall, "It's incredibly unique. The structure actually feels like an oratorio, and therefore it is truly timeless in how it tells the story. It's part Carmina Burana, part musical theater, part hard rock, and very intense rhythmically. It's almost like an extended 1970s rock opera."

Says Scott Forsyth of the Roxian Theatre, "We're excited to bring this unique show to audiences. The Roxian is all about enhancing the live music culture in Pittsburgh, and innovative productions like Satan's Fall add a vital ingredient to that culture."

Stewart Copeland will attend both performances. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for meet and greets with Mr. Copeland before each performance and can be purchased at this link. MCP is partnering with Kimpton Hotel Monaco downtown to offer discounted room rates along with tickets to the show, so out-of-town visitors can experience this unique work and local audience members can make a full night of it. Patrons can make reservations at this link.


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