Preparing and conducting Belshazzar's Feast
Date: April 1, 2014
I am considering staging Belshazzar's Feast with a college choir and community chorus. In past years we have done some Twentieth-Century Repertoire, including Rutter's Gloria, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Adolphus Hailstork's I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes. I find some echoes of Belshazzar's Feast in the Rutter Gloria but the score is daunting regarding orchestra. I have heard it performed and I believe my singers can handle it but I wonder what kind of investment of time and resources will be required for the orchestra. My University does not have a full orchestra program so we have to hire a good number of players for all performances. The largest orchestras we have contracted were for Elijah and the Brahms Requiem. For most of the orchestra members these were fairly familiar works and we were able to stage our performances with just two full orchestra rehearsals, even thought they are longer works.
Belshazzar is shorter but absolutely a challenging and "athletic" piece for singers and orchestra. It will also be less familiar for orchestra and completely new to all my singers. If you have conducted the work, can you give me some insight into the minimum orchestra required to make it work and the number of hours you think would be required with a mix of students, faculty, and Union contract musicians. I would love to do this piece and if it appears that I can afford the orchestra and manage the time required I am ready to take the plunge.
Also, does anyone know what it costs to rent the orchestra parts?
Grace and peace,
Missouri Baptist University
St. Louis MO 63141
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