Arts Council News: Handel’s Messiah presented by Rockford Choral Union

By Anne E. O’Keefe

Executive Director,

Rockford Area Arts Council

Sixty-four years is quite an impressive run for any production. The Rockford Choral Union has been bringing Handel’s Messiah to our community since President Harry S. Truman was in office.

The theme this year is “a musical piece for peace.” It has become a Thanksgiving weekend standard with a production including a full professional orchestra, pipe organ, harpsichord, trumpets, conductor, soloists and chorale of 125 from Rockford and the area covering a 60-mile radius. Soloists this year include Amy Conn, Tracy Watson, William Watson and Dr. Todd Payne.

Coila Davis, one of the performers, serves on the board of directors and works on the publicity. She says 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: Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, using Biblical passages. This piece is Handel’s personal favorite, and he suggests it was the product of inspiration: “I did think I did see all Heaven before me and the great God himself.”

Begin your holiday season with Handel’s Messiah at Trinity Lutheran Church, 200 N. First St., at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 28, and at 3 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 29. Since the Messiah’s first performances around Europe, the profits from most of the performances were donated to charity, an effort befitting the true spirit of the season. Free-will offerings are greatly appreciated, and well worth it! For information call, (815) 654-2748.

Don’t miss another holiday classic, Rockford Dance Company and Rockford Symphony Orchestra’s The Nutcracker at the Coronado, Saturday, Nov. 28, at 2 and 7 p.m.—call (815) 965-0049. For tickets to the Sugar Plum Fairy Party, just $15, call (815) 963-3341. Have your photo taken with the Sugar Plum Fairies at the party after the performance, and enjoy crafts, cookies and punch.

Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.

From the November 25-December 1, 2009 issue

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