Hagerstown Choral Arts presents ‘Glory to God: A Handel’s Messiah Community Sing’
When George Frideric Handel wrote the oratorio “The Messiah” in 1741, chances are he would have hoped — but have never dreamt — what an important piece of holiday music it has become.
As a way to celebrate the gift that Handel shared with the world, Hagerstown Choral Arts presents “Glory to God: A Handel’s Messiah Community Sing” at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Hagerstown.
Gregory Shook, artistic director, said they will be performing only the first portion of “The Messiah,” which is the Christmas portion for this performance.
“It is a Messiah to sing, it’s something for the community to come and participate in,” he said. “If people have their Messiah scores, they can come in and bring them along and sing along.”
Shook said it’s been about four or five years since HCA has hosted a Messiah sing. And when it was brought up last year to do, he said, they added it to their season.
To prepare for the score, Shook said it takes “weeks.”
“It really is a complicated task,” he said. “It’s a familiar piece of music. If we don’t do something for a while, we get sloppy with it. The chorus is working so hard. I think it will be a really great evening.”
Shook said “The Messiah” continues to be a favorite because, “it’s beloved.”
“I think people have favorite parts of The Messiah that they like and wait to hear each year,” he said. “We will be doing the Hallelujah chorus’ however, that isn’t part of the Christmas section. We will end the program with that, and I think it’s kind of expected.”
In addition, HCA will perform John Rutter’s “What Sweeter Music.”
“That’s become our signature song for our holiday concert for 25 years,” he said.
Shook is grateful to those who have made HCA a part of their Christmas tradition.
“I would like to think that it is because they like us, they love us, they love good choral music,” he said.
And there is something about tradition when it comes to Handel’s Messiah. Shook said when he was younger he would go to Hood College in Frederick, Md., to attend their its Messiah singalong.
“It’s nice to bring it to this community,” he said.
He said HCA is smaller in numbers with about 60 to 65 members.
“They’re a good group and they’ve really worked hard to make this happen,” he said, noting they are always looking for new members.
Auditions are in September and January.
Those who want to add Handel’s Messiah to their holiday events, Shook stresses there is only performance of the show.
“I think it’s a nice thing for families to do to come and sing. Everyone knows something from Messiah, whether it’s the tenor aria the opening ‘comfort ye’ or ‘Glory to God’ or Hallelujah chorus — everybody knows something from Messiah it seems. It’s a nice tradition to have this choral concert and have families come.”
And for the season of giving, Shook said Trinity Lutheran has a food pantry.
The food pantry and clothing bank are open year-round and Shook said this time of year there seems to be more of need.
“And if people would like to bring nonperishables to the concert, we would be happy to collect them,” he said.
Top photo: Gregory Shook leads the Hagerstown Choral Arts during rehearsals at Hagerstown Church of the Brethren in April. (Herald-Mail file photo)