Choral Art Society Offers Rare Performance Of Mendelssohn Oratorio

WESTFIELD — The Choral Art Society of New Jersey, celebrating its 50th Season, will be performing Felix Mendelssohn’s Oratorio, Paulus (St. Paul), Op. 36, on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 8 p.m. at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield located at the corner of Mountain Avenue and East Broad Street.

James S. Little, musical director of the society, will conduct the evening’s performance. Soloists are Ellen Goff Entriken, soprano; Angelika Nair, mezzo-soprano; David Kellett, tenor and Andrew Martens, bass. The Choral Art Society Orchestra will accompany the chorus. Admission is $20, $15 for seniors and students, at the door.

For information call 1-908-654-5737 or visit

The first of Mendelssohn’s two oratorios, Paulus is rarely performed in its entirety today, but during the composer’s lifetime it was heard often. Like Elijah, which was written 10 years later and has eclipsed Paulus in popularity, the work is full of beautiful melodies, drama, and the highest level of musical craftsmanship.

Chorus and soloists—in a series of choruses, recitatives and arias—and the orchestra all have a vital role in recounting the story of the conversion of Paul from Judaism to Christianity, as told in the New Testament, from which the text is largely drawn. Part One begins with several introductory movements, followed by the stoning of St. Stephen (the first Christian martyr) and Paul’s conversion and baptism. Part Two follows the ministry of Paul and the apostle Barnabas and includes Paul’s persecution by his former coreligionists and his healing of the lame man of Lystra, with a final chorus based on Psalm 103.

Evident throughout Paulus is Mendelssohn’s admiration for Handel as well as Bach, whose music was virtually unknown in the 19th century until Mendelssohn conducted a public performance of the St Matthew Passion in 1829, igniting Bach’s rediscovery

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