CHATHAM – Every year, at this time, radio stations play glorious excerpts of Handel’s Messiah. A classic almost everyone recognizes, its most well-known component is the Hallelujah Chorus. We’re betting most readers have even sung along for a few bars. Certainly commuters have been belting out the chorus at the top of their lungs while they’ve been tooling down the highway. That clandestine singing is its own Holiday tradition.
On Saturday, December 17th, all those who are musically inclined – sopranos, altos, tenors and baritones alike, can come out of the closet, or, more accurately, up off the driver’s seat, and join the chorus in earnest. Gwen Gould, conductor, will be leading the general public and a professional instrumental ensemble of The Columbia Festival Orchestra, at a “SING” of Handel’s Messiah at the St. James Church in Chatham at 7 p.m.
“Come celebrate the season,” says Ms. Gould, founder of the CFO. We want everyone to lend their voice. Together the sound will be magnificent.”
The tradition at St. James started in 2007, though conductor Gould has been doing Messiah Sings since the early 1970’s beginning in NYC’s West Village and in other locations in Columbia County. This is an opportunity to hear some beautiful music, join in the singing, and spend some time with friends and neighbors away from that frenzy that has become a less welcome Holiday custom. “We provide everyone with scores,” says Gould, “and we encourage participation. We assign what are traditionally solos to entire sections of the audience so the music really fills the building. It’s a joy to listen to.”
Besides the general public, choral groups from the tri-state area are being invited, too. With more than 12 in the Albany area alone, the resulting swell of voices could raise the already vaulted ceiling. “Those who are shy about their singing can rest assured that more confident vocalists will be in attendance,” the conductor adds. “We want everyone to enjoy the evening – even those who just want to listen.”
Gould is also seeking serious-minded string students to join with the professional musicians at this event. “The CFO has a mentoring program called “Take a Seat” that allows youngsters the opportunity to learn at the knees of more seasoned performers,” she says.” “Handel’s MESSIAH is a classic – one that students should learn. By becoming part of this event, these young people will be able to add an important work to their repertoire and see how the area’s professional musicians approach this piece.” Music teachers and student string players can reach Gould at 518.828.7513 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This annual program is designed as a “glorious sing-along”, but encourages listeners to attend too. Light refreshments will be served at this non-sectarian event. Eight dollar tickets are available in advance (online only at columbiafestivalorchestra.org). The evening of the performance, tickets will be $10.00. St. James Church is located on the corner of Rtes 203 and 66 in Chatham, New York.
This is an event of the non-profit organization Columbia Festival Orchestra and its newest venture, ClaverackLanding: great music in great spaces. For more information about the coming season of classical music go to claveracklanding.org.