The oratorio depicts events in the life of the biblical prophet Elijah, taken from the books Kings One and Two in the Old Testament.
Program notes from a 2011 performance by the New York Philharmonic indicate that note that composer Felix Mendelssohn, only 20 years old, conducted a modern premiere of J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in 1829 and was inspired to write an oratorio. The world premiere of Elijah was August 26, 1846, in Birmingham, England, with the composer conducting,
John French, holder of the Heefner Chair of Music, conducted at Ursinus. Professional soloists were Reginald Pindell, Elijah; Leslie Johnson, soprano; Chelsea Keane, soprano; Joanna Gates, alto; and Robert O’Neill, tenor.
Paul Fleckenstein was organist. He has served as organist and director of music at Westminster Church in Wilmington, Del., since 1993. He holds degrees from the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music and Westminster Choir College, where he held a graduate assistantship as accompanist for the famed Westminster Symphonic Choir.