The 62-voice Community Chorus sponsored by Thunder Bay Arts Council will present its annual concert, Christmas Carols and Choruses, this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Alpena High School. The doors of the Stanley C. Beck Auditorium will open at 7 p.m.
Following tradition, the first portion of this concert consists of alternating choruses and solos from Handel's oratorio, "The Messiah." Rev. Owen Williams will begin the work with the tenor recitative, "Comfort, Comfort Ye My People," followed by the aria, "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted." Williams is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, and he is also well-known for his musical talents.
Mezzo-soprano Martha Hart has performed "The Messiah" solos twice during the past week in Petoskey with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra. She agreed to remain in northern Michigan for the TBAC Community Chorus presentation. She and husband, Dr. Tom Hart, are currently at Ohio State University in Columbus.
"O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion" is her first aria. The chorus follows with Handel's four-part harmonization of the same melody and text.
Soprano Marlo Broad will sing four short recitatives, including the familiar Biblical text regarding the angel appearing to the shepherds. The chorus responds with "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men." Broad's interests and expertise range from music and art to her work in special collections at the Alpena County Library.
Broad and Hart are also heard in two other solo arias.
The choir's final number is the most familiar one of all from the oratorio, "The Hallelujah Chorus."
"First of all, it is Handel's music which is the magnet that draws chorus members together for this concert," said Director Jim Hart. "They make the commitment to practice, with some people driving for 30 minutes or more for our rehearsals. Secondly, Alpena is very fortunate to be hearing soloists of this caliber every year."
The second portion of the concert opens with two 15th century carols found in today's hymnals and used extensively in churches: "O Come, O Come Immanuel" and "Lo, How a Rose e'er Blooming."
A new composition by Robert Young, "Herself a Rose Who Bore a Rose" and an early "Ave Maria" complete this group of selections sung by the chorus.
The very positive response of last year's audience to a musical selection sung by Martha Hart with flutist MaryAnn Hubbard prompted director Hart to ask the two to again perform together. They will present "A Christmas Lullaby" by the contemporary American composer, Ned Rorem.
Arrangements of lively folk melodies have been chosen for the final group of selections. "Carol of the Bells" comes from the Ukraine; "Fum, Fum, Fum" is a Spanish dance carol; and the chorus concludes with the English wassail carol, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
There is no charge for this concert, because the TBAC Community Chorus and the Harts have always presented this as a gift to the community. However, the Thunder Bay Arts Council would greatly appreciate donations to help defray the cost of music for this sizable chorus.