“There is a long tradition of ‘Messiah’ being performed at Georgetown College each fall, and I want to maintain that,” Choir director Dr. John Campbell said. “Students enjoy the familiarity of the work after they’ve worked it up as freshmen, and it is a good vehicle for our voice majors and minors to prepare and perform challenging selections from the standard vocal repertoire.”
But why make it a sing? “The Messiah” certainly is a challenge, even to those familiar with the work. On odd years, the community is invited to sing-along with the choir in a low-pressure setting. “People out there know and love this music,” Campbell explained, “but many don’t have the opportunity to reconnect with Handel other than at this event. Another plus is that in the odd years the Concert Choir can prepare and perform music in addition to ‘Messiah,’ such as ‘The Creation’ (the Haydn concert that took place last month).”
On even years, patrons just sit back and enjoy a polished performance of piece. Every year, however, soloists are selected from the Concert Choir to perform and expand their repertoire.
Singing two solos apiece Sunday are Scott County natives Michael Cannon and Chuck Harris, both juniors, and senior Daniel Ng. The other soloists are seniors Hagan Hill of Lexington and Cate Kilgore of Bowling Green; juniors Danielle Harrison of Paducah and Haley Howard of Harlan; sophomore Elizabeth Levay of Maysville; and freshman Maura Shirley of Georgetown.
Maura, who was in choir in both middle school and Scott County High School, is taking on her first-ever solo. “(Then) I was not one to try out because I didn’t think I’d get it,” she said. “But now that I’m in college, I thought I’d try something new.”
Also, she admitted to a little push from her father, who has encouraged her to pursue singing all-along. After attending the Choir’s recent performance of “The Creation” he asked if she could be a soloist. So, she decided to put her shyness aside and audition for “Messiah” with a piece she had been working on her with her voice teacher – “Come unto Him all ye that labor.” To her pleasant surprise, the soprano was awarded that solo for this Sunday.
“Maura did a good job and I said, yes, she can step up and do this,” said Director Campbell. “Plus, she has a good background…the (SCHS) choral program holds its own with any in Lexington.”
Campbell said Georgetown is one of few schools that allow freshmen to perform major parts in a work such as “The Messiah.” “We love to give our students opportunities here,” he said.
For Maura, this opportunity was monumental. “When I did my audition, Dr. Campbell actually thanked me…and that was a big deal to me. It felt like more than just him saying ‘okay, good job’,” she said. Maura is also a cheerleader for the Georgetown Tigers and a member of the new women’s a cappella choir, Tiger Tunistas.
On Sunday, patrons who just prefer to listen at “Messiah Sing” will be just fine. “With all the other singers… someone who can’t really sing can still maybe follow along,” said Campbell, noting more than 100 at the last sing two years ago. “Or simply experience the sound from within the choir, which can be pretty amazing.”
Those who want to chime in are urged to bring a copy of the music and sit in with the choirs on beloved choruses as “Glory to God,” “For unto Us a Child Is Born,” and the “Hallelujah!” chorus. There will be a few copies available at the door, including several of the full vocal score ($8 for that). Audience members are also welcome to look on with a choral scholar.
Glenna Metcalfe will accompany on the organ; H.M. Lewis will be on trumpet.