Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts



Committee Chair

Randal Rushing

Committee Member

Josef Hanson

Committee Member

Benjamin W Smith

Committee Member

Mary Wilson


Handel’s Messiah has remained in performance since its premiere in Dublin in 1742, making it a cornerstone of the musical canon for instrumentalists and vocalists alike. Though there are now standardized versions of the oratorio in publication, each performance remains unique through the addition, deletion, and transposition of movements, in addition to variances in instrumentation and ornamentation practices. Paul Ayres, a composer, conductor, and keyboard player, has taken this idea of unique performances to the extreme by rewriting the oratorio, bestowing upon it a new name: Messyah. Ayres’s Messyah is a work in fifty-one movements scored for soloists, choir, string orchestra, keyboard instruments, percussion, and brass. The composer synthesizes Handelian and Baroque styles with modern techniques in order to create a new genre, the Neo-Baroque oratorio, through a variety of approaches, including musical quotation, melodic and rhythmic manipulation, transposition, addition of choral passages, and reorchestrations. The result is a work that rests on a Baroque foundation while simultaneously building upon it. The performer must select appropriate ornamentation that further bridges the gap between the two eras of music history rather than distracts from the work itself. The author aims to offer suggestions for both compulsory and optional ornamentation for the Messyah soloist by consulting resources on Baroque performance practice and elaborating upon them to balance the traditional and novel styles present in the Neo-Baroque oratorio. The author will also recommend insertions of various embellishments in both cadential and phrasal figures; these include the appoggiatura, anticipation, cadenza, melisma, slide, trill, and further melodic and rhythmic manipulations. The resulting guide will highlight the analysis of the arias and recitatives scored for the tenor soloist, as well as of additional movements that have been performed by the tenor but may normally be scored for other voice types.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access