The community is encouraged to kick off the holiday season with a performance of Handel's "Messiah," courtesy of Marietta College's Edward E. MacTaggart Department of Music, Dec. 2 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Marietta.
The performance, now in its 86th year, will feature the Oratorio Chorus and Orchestra under choral director David Tadlock and orchestra conductor Daniel G. Monek.
"This is actually the 159th performance of the Messiah over a period of 86 years, as there has been more than one performance in some past years. And people love it," said Pam Gordon, audition coordinator with the MacTaggart Department of Music.
She said between 700 and 800 programs are handed out for each year's event.
"It's almost always standing room only. Every year people begin arriving as early as 5 p.m. to claim their favorite seats, although the performance doesn't begin until 7 p.m.," said Monek. "I find that interesting-it's not the easiest music for first-timers. But we always meet several new folks who attend."
Monek has conducted the orchestra for 12 years.
If you go
Handel's Messiah will be presented by Marietta College's Edward E. MacTaggart Department of Music Dec. 2.
The 7 p.m. performance is free to the public at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 506 Fourth St., Marietta.
"The orchestra members are professionals who come from Ohio, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and all over the region," he said. "And the chorus-they've been rehearsing since around Labor Day-averages about 70 people every year."
Gordon said there will be some great soloists performing this year, including sopranos Jean Couchie Burnquist and Nicole Furtoran, alto Amy Yekel, tenor Ray Bauwens and bass singer Douglas Anderson.
"St. Mary's is an absolutely gorgeous venue for these performances," Gordon said. "People return year after year, and it's a great family-friendly event."
The original Messiah entails a three-hour performance, but Monek said the Dec. 2 presentation has been slightly condensed to a little more than two hours.
Composed by George Frederic Handel in 1741, the Messiah was first performed in 1742 in Dublin. The text, taken from the King James version of the Bible, was compiled by Charles Jennens.
"The Messiah has been historically connected to Christmas, but it was not originally intended for a particular holiday," Monek said.
He noted the concert has been provided free of charge to the community by Marietta College since 1926-the same year the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began in New York City.