EDMOND—On April 19, 305 concert goers came to Armstrong Auditorium to see Abraham, the ninth of 10 performances in the 2017–2018 Armstrong International Cultural Foundation performing arts season.
The oratorio was performed by a 68-member choir from Herbert W. Armstrong College, Imperial Academy and the Philadelphia Church of God, conducted by music instructor Mark Jenkins and accompanied by an orchestra including many professional musicians from the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Soloists portraying Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Hagar were Church members Ryan Malone, Paula Malone and Joel Hilliker and professional mezzo-soprano Pamela Williams of the Chicago Lyric Opera. Imperial Academy senior Seth Malone appeared as third-chair cellist.
Composed by the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation concert manager Ryan Malone, the oratorio tells the life of the biblical patriarch Abraham through two acts and 21 choral and solo songs. The first act consisted of:
- “Honor the Victor”
- “The Best of My Best”
- “Just Passing Through”
- “Adorn the Heart”
- “God Will Hear”
- “God Sees”
- “A New Name”
- “Is Anything Too Hard for the Lord?”
“Laughter” was well received by the audience with cheers and whistles; several performers said it was their favorite. Posting on social media, a viewer of the performance named Patricia wrote, “The laughing of Sarah, sung by Paula Malone, was done so beautifully, and it lifted the spirits of all the audience at just the right time. Awesome oratorio.”
After intermission, the second act included:
- “Rejoice, O Barren”
- “Cast Them Out!”
- “God Will Provide”
- “By Faith”
- “God Will Provide”
- “Now I Know”
- “Reach for That City”
A live stream of the performance was carried on live.pcog.org, and Church members watching in the field praised the show. Minister Timothy Oostendarp posted that he “loved the drama and the emotion. Abraham and Sarah were humanized, as you gave them life and supplied their voices, and I found that to be a very encouraging and moving aspect of this particular performance.”
Cole March posted, “The live stream was clear and the instruments and voices well blended. Hard to beat a live orchestra.”
Abraham is the second oratorio composed by Mr. Malone after Song of Songs, which was performed in 2012 and 2016. The final concert of the 2017–2018 season will be a sold-out performance by Glenn Miller Orchestra on May 10.
At the Abraham performance, the foundation released its upcoming schedule of nine concerts for 2018-2019, its 20th anniversary season.
Update: A video recording of the Abraham performance is now available on Armstrong Auditorium’s YouTube channel.