Arts Council News: Artful holiday traditions

By Anne E. O’Keefe
Executive Director, Rockford Area Arts Council

Congratulations to the Rockford Choral Union for showing the fortitude to bring Handel’s holiday classic Messiah to the Rockford community for the 65th consecutive year.

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. Nate Bauer, conductor, professional chamber orchestra, internationally known, will be the featured soloist.

Coila Davis, one of the performers, who serves on the board of directors and works on the publicity, says that 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 suggested 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. 27, or 3 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 28. 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. A free-will offering is greatly appreciated, and well worth it! For information, call (815) 397-4601 or (815) 963-4446.

Another “holiday must” is a production presented by the Rockford Dance Company and Rockford Symphony Orchestra, The Nutcracker. My first memory of this ballet was getting out of school early and going to my Mom’s office in the Gas and Electric Building, now SupplyCore, to walk across the street to the wonderment of the Coronado. Performances are at 2 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 27. Call (815) 965-0049 for tickets and information. Keep the tradition alive or be the spark!

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

From the Nov. 24-30, 2010 issue

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