• Star Valley has been gathering to present “Messiah” for 48 years.
The Salt River Symphony and Chorus are presenting Handel’s “Messiah” Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, December 17-19 in the Historic Ford Theatre in Afton at 7 p.m. Sunday evening’s event is a dress rehearsal, with a sing-in opportunity for the crowd.
“Messiah,” composed by George Frederick Handel in 1741, has long been a Christmas tradition in communities throughout the world. According to tabernaclechoir.org, the complete 260-page oratorio was composed in only 24 days. Handel focused so entirely on his work that servants would find his meals left untouched, and he rested little. He was often found in tears as he composed. When he completed “Hallelujah,” he reportedly told his servant, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne, with His company of Angels.”
Under the direction of James Arbizu, this production’s chorus consists of nearly 40 local voices, with several featured soloists, and the orchestra offers over 20 local instrumentalists.
“Handel’s Messiah has been performed at Christmastime in Star Valley since 1975,” said Margaret Tueller, event organizer, in an interview with SVI Media last week. “I am amazed and grateful that in our small community, we have always had the talented people needed to be able to conduct, sing and play the music of the “Messiah.” I’ve been proud of our community for supporting the performances and keeping the tradition alive.
“Messiah” fans wanting to join the sing-in can bring their personal copies of the score, or they can borrow one while at the theater on Sunday evening so they can join their voices to those on the stage. Theater lights will be dim, so bring your phone or a flashlight to see your music.
“The dress rehearsal will be more causal with the focus of the sing-along being for everyone to have a close-up and personal experience with the music,” said Tueller. “The highlight of the night will be the audience joining in and singing the choruses with the choir, including the Hallelujah Chorus! Imagine being in the middle of more than 250 singers singing some of the greatest music ever written!”
Monday and Tuesday will be more formal concert presentations. The audience, however, will be invited to join the choir as they sing the rousing “Hallelujah Chorus.”
“The beauty of Handel’s music, and the message of faith and hope in Jesus Christ, are inspiring and uplifting and bring our community together in a wonderful way,” said Tueller. “I hope everyone will want to take the opportunity to join us again this year for this special Star Vally performance.”
For tickets to “Messiah,” visit saltriverarts.com.