ALAMOSA — Community performers reunite tonight to fill the air with holiday cheer. For the first time in eight years the San Luis Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Valley Community Chorus are performing George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” at Adams State University’s Richardson Hall.
“I believe it’s time to perform “Messiah” again and I’m excited about the collaboration between David Schneider and I,” said William Lipke, ASU music professor and the founder and director SLV Symphony. “It’s a major work that deserves to be heard and it’s loved by audiences everywhere.”
Multiple variations of the work have been performed throughout history, but this weekend attendees will hear approximately 50 singers and a 15-member baroque orchestra perform the first part—which focuses on Christmas—and the iconic “Hallelujah” chorus.
“The ‘Hallelujah’ chorus of course has to be there because if there wasn’t, me being the person up there with the baton would probably get the first pelt,” joked VCC Director Schneider.
This will be Schneider’s first time directing “Messiah” since he took over the VCC two years ago. After their May performance he felt comfortable to take on the oratorio. “I know that many within our choir and many within the community have been asking about it,” said Schneider. “To give the community something that it’s excited about is very fulfilling.”
There will also be an encore presentation on Sunday at Sacred Heart Church in Alamosa for those that miss tonight’s event. No matter the performance, it is an opportunity for music to bring together a diverse group. The audition-based orchestra has both high school students and retired professionals in their 80s while the VCC is just as eclectic.
“I have a singer as young as 13 and one who just celebrated her 90th birthday, who sang her first “Messiah” in 1948,” Schneider said. “It’s a wonderful way to see different people who would not necessarily come together and bring a performance to a community.”
The pair has an affinity for “Messiah” and can’t wait to perform it tonight. Lipke, who founded the orchestra 14 years ago, has conducted it, sang in the chorus and played the harpsichord for it throughout his career.
“Handel composed this in a burst of inspiration and it has been admired by musicologists ever since,” said Lipke. “Handel is famous for his powerful choruses and ‘Messiah’ is a perfect example of that.”
“The orchestra really provides a wonderful complement and will get its chance to shine,” added Schneider. This has been a wonderful opportunity for our communities.”
Proceeds from ticket sales will go to ASU music scholarships and the VCC’s Martha Oliver Award, which will give $500 and $1,000 to two graduating high school seniors pursuing vocal careers.
When: Friday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.
Where: Adam State University's Richardson Hall, 208 Edgemont Boulevard
When: Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.
Where: Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 715 Fourth Street
Cost: Both shows are $10 for adults, $1 for students and free to AS&F and Friends of Music. Tickets are purchased at the door. Doors open 30 minutes before the concert.