Choir to perform Handel’s Messiah

John Corrie directs the Bates College Choir.

The Bates College Choir, directed by John Corrie, presents Part One of Handel’s popular oratorio Messiah in performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, in Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St.

Concert admission is free, but tickets are required. For more information contact 207-786-6135 or this

Written in just 24 days in 1741 and considered Georg Frideric Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah draws from the Old and New Testaments to lay out the Christ story and its significance to humankind. The oratorio’s debut, in Dublin in April 1742, “seems to have been one of those rare times in history when a transcendently great work is immediately perceived at its full value,” writes music historian Jan Swafford.

“There are so many breathtaking moments for both the vocal soloists and the chorus,” choir director Corrie said in 2007. “So many familiar melodies and joyous sounds.”

While the piece is commonly associated with Christmas, its themes pertain to both Christmas and Easter. Because the entire work lasts about three hours, the choir will perform the second and third of its three parts next spring.

Messiah is one of those milestones that every choral singer should know,” Corrie said. It’s important for singers to learn the entire piece, so by dividing it between two programs he enables them “to learn all of it, but spread out the effort over two semesters of work.”

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