The annual Christmas concert by the deGraffenried Chorale will be this weekend, and it will be quite different than recent years.
To start with, the local chorale group will be performing music from a single work – “Messiah” by George Frideric Handel. Also, the concert will take place this year at Southern Heights Baptist Church on Nashville Street in Russellville instead of the United Methodist Temple.
“We’ve been so blessed with the support that’s been given us by the United Methodist Temple,” said Mary Beth Dowden, director of the Chorale. “They have given practice facilities, and space to store our music there. We have a close relationship with them, but there was some feeling in the group that ‘Messiah’ might draw a bigger crowd than usual.”
Because of its larger seating capacity, the decision was made to hold the concert at Southern Heights. It will be Sunday, Dec. 6, at 2:30 p.m. and is free to the public, but tax deductible donations will be accepted.
“We have performed there before,” Dowden said. “We have also performed at First Baptist. We’re not tied to any one church.”
This weekend’s performance of “Messiah” will be just the first part – plus one other key addition.
“The ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ does not appear in part I, it comes later in the work,” Dowden said. “But people expect to hear it, so we will be performing it to close the program.”
The weekend’s concert will have 30 singers and five soloists including Iris Perez (soprano), Anne Crawford (alto), Joshua Baldwin (tenor), Wade Baker (bass) and Philip Crawford (bass).
“Messiah” is an oratorio, that is a major work, written on a religious theme and originally performed by chorus, soloists and orchestra.
“We wanted to have a small orchestra with us on Sunday, but they are just so expensive,” Dowden said. “Instead, we will be using our wonderful accompanist, Susan Fox.”
Handel wrote Messiah in 1741 in 24 days.
“You can hardly deny the fact that Heandle was inspired by God,” Dowden said. “That is 260 pages of very intricate manuscript in just 24 days.”
It was first performed in Dublin, April of 1742 in a concert for charitable purposes.
“One of the things I read about Handle is that he was a man of deep faith and compassion and he freely gave to charity, even when his circumstances were limited,” Dowden said. “The first performance of ‘Messiah’ raised 400 English pounds and freed 142 men from debtors’ prison.”
The Chorale will be performing the other two parts of the work in March.
“The Christmas portion is the best known, but what we will be doing in the spring is the Passion and Easter portion,” Dowden said. “We’ve started working a little bit on some of the things we’ll be doing later.”
To contact OJ Stapleton, emial [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.