Bates College Choir performs second, third parts of Handel’s ‘Messiah’

John Corrie conducts the Bates College Choir.

John Corrie conducts the Bates College Choir.

Conducted by Lecturer in Music John Corrie, the Bates College Choir performs the second and third sections of Handel’s beloved oratorio Messiah at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 16-17, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St.

The concerts are open to the public at no cost, but because of limited seating, tickets are required. For tickets and more information, please contact 207-786-6135 or

Written in just 24 days in 1741 and considered Georg Friedrich 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,” says choir director Corrie, a Lewiston resident who is also artistic director of the Maine Music Society. “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 performed the first part of the oratorio last December.

Messiah is one of those milestones that every choral singer should know,” Corrie says. 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.”