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Hallelujah! Hagerstown Choral Arts performs Handel's "Messiah"

December 11, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown Choral Arts, together with the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, on Saturday presented a standing-room-only audience with the Christmas portion of George Frideric Handel's "Messiah" at Trinity Lutheran Church on Randolph Avenue.
Ric Dugan | Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — One of the most-recognizable pieces of music ever composed bounced off the vaulted ceiling of Trinity Lutheran Church on Randolph Avenue, carried high on beautiful voices. Hagerstown Choral Arts, together with the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, on Saturday presented a standing-room-only audience with the Christmas portion of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah.”

More than 80 voices sang Handel's oratorio, which tells the life of Jesus and includes notables chorus like “For Unto Us a Child is Born,” “Ev'ry Valley” and “Hallelujah.” Before the start, Suzanne Hayes, a member of the Hagerstown Choral Arts board of directors, had to ask the audience to squeeze together and make room for more people in the pews.

Not a seat in the historic church was vacant for the performance and all 400 programs were distributed, she said. The two-hour performance met with lengthy applause at its conclusion.

As is tradition, the audience rose for the most famous portion of the oratorio, “Hallelujah.” Walking out the doors, many people stopped the performers with hugs. “Wonderful,” one woman said as she embraced soloist Ryan Herbst.

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“Just beautiful,” said a man as he made his way toward the exit. “Enjoyable as always.”

Hagerstown Choral Arts Board President Jessica Bachtell said this was the 18th holiday season for the group and the second time it performed the “Messiah.”

However, this was the first time students from Barbara Ingram participated, both singing in the chorus and playing in the orchestra.

“I think it went amazingly well,” said Kyle Weary, vocal music department lead teacher at the arts school, noting that Friday's weather prevented students from attending the final rehearsal. He said he would welcome the chance for his students toperform with Hagerstown Choral Arts again.

While the performance only included part of the Messiah, the group presently does not have plans to perform the remainder of Handel's masterpiece, often referred to as the Easter portion, in the spring, Bachtell said.

However, she said the idea has not yet been discussed by the board of directors. For those who would like to try singing the challenging masterpiece, Bachtell said Hagerstown Choral Arts is hosting a sing-along of the “Messiah” today at 4 p.m. at the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren.

Soloists for Saturday's performance were soprano Judy Loiseau-Myers; alto Isabelle Maina, a sophomore at Barbara Ingram; bass Bob Crawford; and Herbst, a tenor.

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