Choral Arts tackles fuller 'Messiah' at two churches

Choral Arts tackles fuller 'Messiah' at two churches

November 20th, 2012 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

Choral Arts of Chattanooga will perform familiar and unfamiliar portions of Handel's "Messiah" twice over the next week.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

* What: Highlights of Handel's "Messiah" by Choral Arts of Chattanooga.

* When and where: 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25 St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 305 W. Seventh St.; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27 at Broad Street United Methodist Church, 263 Broad St. N.W., Cleveland, Tenn.

* Admission: $15 adults, $5 students with ID, free for children under age 12.

* Phone: 598-3274.

SOLOISTS

* Sopranos: Barbara Burrow, Betsy Craig, Sharon Dunn, Amanda Hegeman and Cynthia Johnson.

* Altos: Andria Thomas and Lonna Williams.

* Tenors: Jonathan Harris, Hal Miller and Gary Scheufler.

* Baritone: David Tahere.

Nearly everybody is familiar with George Frideric Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus, and many people have heard much of the first part of the composer's oratorio "Messiah," but few people get to hear portions of the second and third parts of his work.

Choral Arts of Chattanooga is about to remedy that.

The choir will present highlights from each of the three sections on Sunday, Nov. 25, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, and on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Tenn.

Conductor Keith Reas said a full rendition of "Messiah" has not been performed locally in a long time. "I wanted to do something different," Reas said.

Choral Arts, he said, will do about two-thirds of the entire work, leaving out portions of each of the three sections, listed as Prophecy and Birth of the Messiah, Passion and Resurrection, and Life After Death.

Reas, in his third year conducting the group, said he is doing with his choir what Handel did while he was alive. He said the composer was constantly making changes and working within the choir at hand from the work's composition in 1742 to his death in 1759.

"There is no definitive version," he said. "You have to make decisions with a smaller chorus ... from the resources of the choir. If we don't have someone to sing something, we're not doing it."

For the Choral Arts performances, which will be the same at both venues, "it will be a chamber-scale performance," Reas said. The 20-person choir will be accompanied by only organ (David Friberg) and trumpet (Mel Wilhoit). Some of the music will be alternate versions that Handel wrote because they fit the choir members' voices better, he said.

Yes, Reas said, listeners will hear the "Hallelujah" chorus, "but you have to wait to the second half to hear it."

The work itself has held up, he said, because "it's just wonderful music. It was immensely popular during Handel's day. Today, not that many contemporary works achieve that level of popularity during [a] composer's lifetime."

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Faceboook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.