Audience can join in the Messiah

It’s one thing to be in the audience watching a performance of Handel’s Messiah. It's another to sing along.

It’s one thing to be in the audience watching a performance of Handel’s Messiah.

It’s quite another to be in the audience, surrounded by chorus singers, able to participate in the concert itself.

That experience is what the Okanagan Festival Singers are attempting this year with the inaugural sing-a-long presentation of the English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, which has become a choral music tradition for choirs to perform  at Christmas every year.

“Handel’s Messiah is something our choir has done dozens of times over the years,” said Mona Birkbeck, an original member of the Okanagan Festival Singers who now sits on the choir’s board of directors.

“It’s a big task to organize, as we usually present it on stage with solists and a full orchestra.”

For the presentation this year on Dec. 3 at the First Lutheran Church on Lakeshore Road in Kelowna, the Okanagan Festival Singers will be seated in the audience along with  the Aura Chamber Choir from Vernon and the Mosaic Vocal Ensemble from Summerland.

“On stage we will have a total of seven soloist singers from the Alexandra Babbel Voice Academy and a small number of musicians, but not a full orchestra,” Birkbeck said.

She said the musical score sheets will be handed out to audience members as they arrive, so they can participate in the vocal singing with the choirs seated around them.

“And we will have a reception at intermission so people can build up enough energy to make it through the second half of the concert,” she said.

“The venue is ideal for attempting this as it will feel like a big family, all part of a big choir taking part in the presentation.”

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, and tickets are available—$15/adults, $10/students—at Paramount Music in downtown Kelowna or by calling 250-764-5188.

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