Midlands residents are being invited to blend their voices with some of the area’s most highly trained musicians tonight when Washington Street United Methodist Church hosts the 10th Sing-Along ‘Messiah’ Columbia.
The evening gathering will feature a performance of Handel’s time-honored work by a full choir and orchestra conducted by Lillian Quackenbush, as audience members sing along or sit back and enjoy the musical celebration of the Christmas season.
The community-based singers regularly number up to 600. Musical scores are provided for those who wish to sing and participants can stand or sit.
Angela Powers, Washington Street United Methodist Church’s director of music, is the producer of this year’s event along with her husband, Davis. She spoke recently about the event and its growing popularity.
What do you think is the greatest appeal of this type of presentation?
Powers: “‘Messiah’ tells the story of Christ and is a beloved musical masterpiece composed by George F. Handel. Often, it is done by professional orchestras, choirs and soloists. This event is unique because anyone that wants may participate in the choir, sing along in the audience, or just listen and enjoy the experience.”
Is this only for the musically gifted? After all, it’s a pretty ambitious work.
Powers: “This event is for everyone, from the casual music lover to the professional musician. You may experience the event as an observer or participant. You may sing the parts that you know and just enjoy or listen to the rest. It is a joyful event that is not about musical perfection but about celebrating the joy and wonder of the Christmas season through music.”
Tell us a little bit about your earliest memory of performing the ‘Messiah.’
Powers: “As a USC (music) student from 1978-1982, I fondly recall singing the Hallelujah Chorus at the USC concert choir Christmas concerts at First Presbyterian Church. It was a beautiful setting and the church was always full. The concert choir was an extremely talented and close-knit group of young people directed by our beloved Dr. Arpad Darazs. I can still see the joy on his face as the audience stood and the first notes rang out. As the last hallelujah sounded, I always felt that through our music we had truly expressed our awe and wonder at the magnificence of our God.”
So what is your favorite number from the work?
Powers: “Without a doubt, Hallelujah is my favorite. To me, singing ‘Messiah’ is a great privilege and source of joy, a musical expression of my love for God.”
You and your husband are both trained vocalists. Does a lot of singing take place at home?
Powers: “Davis sings and hums all the time. I sing all day with my students at (Forest Lake Elementary) school.”
So when does the Christmas music come out at the Powers’ house?
Powers: “Planning for Christmas music begins early, so we listen to some Christmas music throughout the year. The choir begins practicing for Christmas in October. At home and in our cars Christmas music takes over during Thanksgiving weekend and continues throughout the season.”
So what are you hoping participants will take away from the Sing-Along ‘Messiah’?
Powers: “It is our hope that participants will experience the joy, hope and wonder of the Christmas story. Perhaps they will go forth and share the peace and love that that was born in the person of Jesus Christ.”
IF YOU GO
What: Sing-Along “Messiah”
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Washington Street United Methodist Church, 1401 Washington St.
Featuring: A sing-along presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” with a full choir and orchestra
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.