The Arizona Philharmonic (AZ Phil) wraps up its fifth season with Felix Mendelssohn’s iconic oratorio Elijah conducted by Dr. Joshua Harper, Yavapai College’s director of choral activities, and featuring Cailin Manson singing the lead role of Elijah.

Elijah will be performed at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 2, in the newly-named Jim & Linda Lee Performing Arts Center, 1100 E. Sheldon St., Prescott.

Harper’s 16-voice Quartz Ensemble is complemented by AZ Phil’s 13-piece chamber orchestration. Elijah is presented for the first time in Arizona in a “chamber orchestration” by Johann Linckelmann. With a smaller professional choir, the vocal tones are crystal and pure, giving the opportunity to hear the precision of AZ Phil’s instrumental section.

“It’s nice that we’re doing it with the new chamber orchestra arrangement because I think you’ll hear a lot more of the intimacy of the score, but it still doesn’t take away from how long the singing is,” Manson said. “It was conceived with full symphonic forces, of course, and usually you need a large choir to sing it because there’s so much double choir work in it.”

Manson added that getting to hear this chamber orchestra performed with a small choir will be a unique experience. “You still get the idea of what the composer was intending,” Manson said. “Everything’s a lot more exposed when you’re using smaller forces. Everyone has to be absolutely on. You can’t hide.”

Though he has performed Elijah on many different occasions in both German and English, Manson explained that this presentation will present challenges.

“As a soloist, it’s going to feel a little different because, in terms of my muscle memory, I’m just used to having a fuller breadth of tone under me,” Manson said. “So it’s going to be interesting to feel what this score feels like with not as much sound there.”

But according to Manson, the smaller force of sound also presents opportunities for subtlety in his performance as a soloist.

“In some of the most dramatic parts, I won’t vocally have to give as much because there’s just not as much sound to contend with,” Manson said. “I had a similar adjustment when we did the Brahms last year. Brahms is written for large orchestral forces.”

Manson was featured in last season’s Brahms Requiem. He is currently an associate professor of practice in music and the director of music performance at Clark University. He is also the artistic director of the New England Repertory Orchestra.

For tickets and more information, visit AZPhil.org.

AZ Phil is celebrating its fifth season as Prescott’s regional professional orchestra, presenting large and small concerts that engage and inspire listeners. Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities can be found at AZPhil.org or on Facebook.

Quartz Ensemble debuted with Arizona Philharmonic in season three, after AZ Phil had invited Harper to form a professional and auditioned choral ensemble to match the quality AZ Phil was presenting. For more information about the Quartz Ensemble, visit quartzensemble.com.

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