Indiana State University Newsroom

Masterworks to perform Haydn's "The Creation"

April 22, 2009

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The Indiana State University Masterworks Chorale, under the direction of Mark Carlisle, will present Joseph Haydn's oratorio "The Creation" at 3 p.m. April 26 in Tilson Auditorium.

The performance will include the choir, a group of four professional soloists and a supporting classical orchestra consisting of a mixture of Indiana State faculty and students as well as local instrumentalists.

"The Creation," first performed in 1798 in Vienna, Austria and considered by many to be Haydn's masterpiece, depicts and celebrates the creation of the world as described in the biblical book of Genesis, the biblical book of Psalms, and John Milton's Genesis epic, "Paradise Lost." It is written in three parts, with recitatives providing the actual Genesis text, and larger musical numbers such as arias and choruses elaborating the biblical narrative in verse. Haydn was inspired to compose this oratorio following a visit to England during which he heard several performances of oratorios by Georg Friderich Handel.

The work took nearly two years to compose and was a profound act of faith for Haydn, who as a deeply religious man added the words "Praise to God" at the end of every completed movement. The original English text came from a poem entitled "The Creation of the World." This English libretto was eventually rewritten into German by Viennese diplomat, librarian, and amateur musician Baron van Swieten so that Haydn could compose the work with greater ease. Nevertheless, the oratorio was published bilingually in 1800 and is still performed in both languages today.

Sunday's performance will use an English translation by renowned American conductor Robert Shaw and his close musical colleague, Alice Parker. Their version was written to repair what they considered the "disjunct language" of the original English version, and unite Haydn's picturesque musical language with a more colorful and understandable English text.

Soloists for this performance, who represent angels who narrate and comment on the successive six days of creation, include three music faculty members - Lisa Lowry, soprano, as Gabriel; David Mannell, tenor, as Uriel; and Colleen Davis, soprano, as Eve. Indianapolis bass-baritone Kevin Träger will perform the dual roles of Raphael and Adam.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students (K-12). ISU students will be admitted free with a valid student ID. For more information, call the ISU choral music office at 812-237-4590.


Contact: Mark Carlisle, Choral Office, (812) 237-4590 or

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or