For 60 years, the Rockford Lutheran Choral Union has been bringing Handels Messiah to our community. An impressive history, considering the Chicago Lyric Opera has only been doing this for 30 years. It has become a Thanksgiving weekend standard with a production including a professional orchestra, conductor, soloists and chorale of 125 from Rockford and the area covering a 60-mile radius. Historically, the group has been known as the Rockford Lutheran Choral Union because it was started by members of three Rockford Lutheran churches. Of course, there is no requirement of being Lutheran to be a participant.
Coila Davis, who sings with the group, serves on the board of directors and is working on the publicity for the event, is a great spokesman for the event. Davis said the Messiah performances started here in Rockford in 1945 to raise the spirits of the community during wartime. As is the case with oratorios, this piece is divided into three parts: Christs birth, death and resurrection, utilizing Biblical passages as their basis. This piece is Handels personal favorite. Handel suggested it was the product of inspiration: I did think I did see all Heaven before me and the great God himself, he had said of Messiah.
Begin your holiday season with George Frederic Handels Messiah at Trinity Lutheran Church, 200 N. First St., 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 26 or 3 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 27.
Since the Messiahs first performances around Europe, the profits from most of the performances were donated to charity, an effort befitting the true spirit of the season. A free will offering would be greatly appreciated if you attend one of these great performances.
The cost to present this performance is $15,000, which is raised entirely through donations. Get your tickets at Bargain Book Depot, Journey Books and Music, Lemstone Christian Stores and Vineyard Books.
Anne E. OKeefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.
From the Nov. 23-29, 2005, issue