Columbia Pro Cantare ready to perform Handel's 'Messiah'

Composer George Frederick Handel's "Messiah" was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and it has been performed around the world ever since. Maintaining that tradition in Howard County, Columbia Pro Cantare performs its 27th annual "Messiah" on Sunday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School.

The edited version that Columbia Pro Cantare performs every December includes this famous oratorio's Christmas section and selections from Parts II and III. Running around two hours, this version ensures that audience members will hear their favorite passages.

"Handel's 'Messiah' is among the top 10 things that people want to hear. It's a great piece of music that easily bears repeating," said Columbia Pro Cantare music director Frances Motyca Dawson. "The Chorus members also look forward to it. We still rehearse it, revisit certain sections and fine-tune it again, because there's no perfect performance."

From a choral standpoint, Dawson observed that Handel's masterfully composed score makes it work equally well in either a formal concert hall presentation or a church sing-along: "The choruses are so singable, and everyone has an equal amount to do. It's a satisfying experience for the singers."

The soloists for the Columbia Pro Cantare performance are soprano Amy Van Roekel, mezzo MaryAnn McCormick, tenor Charles Reid and baritone Lester Lynch. They will be accompanied by the Festival Orchestra, as well as by Henry Lowe on positive organ.

They'll be bringing alive an oratorio whose vocal greatness makes it a welcome annual presence in the concert hall.

Dawson observed that an additional reason Handel's "Messiah" caught on was that the composer was "a public personality. He was a capitalist who understood how to use social and economic forces in terms of patronage and the marketplace."

Noting that the 18th-century composer's "Messiah" has had thousands of repeat performances since then, Dawson exclaimed: "Hooray for him! It's still going strong and everybody knows it."

Columbia Pro Cantare performs Handel's "Messiah" on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake, 5460 Trumpeter Road in Columbia. Tickets are $23, $20 for seniors and students, in advance; $25 and $22, respectively, at the door. Dr. Barbara Renton gives a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m.; and there is a post-concert reception. Call 410-799-9321 or go to

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