The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Hallelujah! Two performances of a “Sing-along ‘Messiah’ are slated next Friday night in Dodgeville and next Sunday afternoon in Spring Green.

December 1, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Our friends in the Rural Musicians Forum (below is a press release with a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired logo) write to say:

Rural Messiah 2013 poster 2

Around the world and across the country, the performance of the oratorio “Messiah” by George Friderich Handel (below) at Christmas time is a tradition almost as deeply entrenched as decorating trees and hanging stockings.

This year, for the first time in this area, the Rural Musicians Forum is hosting a “Sing-Out Messiah” with two community “sing-along” performances of “Messiah.”

One will be in Dodgeville on this coming Friday, December 6, at 7 p.m. at the United Methodist Church; the other will be in Spring Green on Sunday, December 8,  at 3 p.m.) at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. 

handel big 3

“Sing-along” concerts have been a popular tradition throughout the United States, Europe and Asia since the mid-20th Century.

Many people have grown up hearing “Messiah” in their homes, churches and communities, and whether they’re accomplished musicians or just shower singers, many love to reconnect to those memories by singing the piece with others.

In a “Sing-along Messiah,” trained and accomplished singers perform side by side with friends and neighbors who could be singing — or even hearing — “Messiah”: for the first time. Families, church groups and even adherents to different religious traditions all take part. (For proof, see the very popular YouTube video with note than 42 million hits at the bottom of a flash mob performance of “The Hallelujah Chorus.)

The audience serves as the unrehearsed chorus, supported by a more carefully prepared core group. Instrumentalists and soloists are of professional quality. 

In Dodgeville and Spring Green, performers will include a chorus drawn from the community, the Pecatonica String Quartet (below), and five soloists, led by Greg Dennis, longtime director of the Mt. Horeb Chorale and UW-Platteville choral department.

Pecatonica String Quartet

Soloists for “Sing Out Messiah” include sopranos Madeline Ehlinger (Spring Green) and Leslie Damaso (Mineral Point), alto Janna Johnson (Arena), bass Carl Leaf (Spring Green) and Matt Roble (Dodgeville/Wisconsin Dells).  Retired UW-Stevens Point piano professor, Michael Keller will accompany.

In the audience will be more than a hundred singers waiting for their turns to sing, and listeners who have the opportunity to sit among the singers. 

In announcing “Sing Out Messiah,” RMF’s Artistic Director Kent Mayfield (below) said, “I love Messiah, and there is something about a full-house doing it that is remarkable.  The joy of singing with a mass of people transcends any kind of choral or vocal ability.  It gives the piece an energy you wouldn’t experience otherwise.  Everyone is welcome to join the singing and everyone is welcome to the performance. As an audience member, no one is required to sing but everyone is certainly invited to sing!”

Kent Mayfield  Rural Musicians Forum

The selections to be sung are listed on the RMF website:

Scores for “Messiah” are available at Arcadia Books in Spring Green and from online vendors.  A limited number of copies will be available at each of the performances on a first-come/first-serve basis.

Tickets are $10 (children under 12 are admitted free) for “Sing Out Messiah” and are available now at the Cook’s Room in Dodgeville, Arcadia Books in Spring Green and online at Tickets will be available at the door in advance of each performance.

Rural messiah 2013 poster 1

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