When the winter holiday season rolls around, a massive oratorio written by George Frideric Handel in August 1741 always marches its way into the spotlight.
"Messiah," featuring solo voices, an orchestra and a chorus, traces the story of Jesus from the Old Testament prophecies through the Resurrection. Its mighty "Hallelujah" chorus is a must-sing for many performers.
So it's only natural that members of the Lawrence High School A Cappella Choir, conducted by Cathy Crispino, are excited about being a part of an upcoming "Messiah" performance that will feature the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra, Free State High School Chamber Choir and soloists Susan Andrade, Amanda Hills, Chris Gilliam and Hugo Vera.
"There have been several collaborations in the recent past between the LHS A Cappella Choir and the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra," Crispino said. "It's a tremendous gift we're giving to our students. First to perform the 'Messiah' and knowing the place it has in our culture and then to perform it with a professional orchestra."
Crispino said there are a total of 120 students in the LHS choir and the Free State choir, which is conducted by Pam Bushouse. The chamber orchestra, directed by Juan Francisco La Manna, is made up of about 30 musicians.
Crispino said Handel's composition is intricate and tests a singer's stamina. The work contains a number of musical themes that are never repeated in the same way. Instead, Handel modifies the themes with "twists and turns."
"We know that Handel was a master, a genius," she said. "Baroque music is based on dance forms, and its youthful exuberance never seems to lose its appeal."
The upcoming concert will include the Advent and Christmas portions of "Messiah."