Chorale seeks singers

Published 10:38 am Thursday, September 21, 2017

Interested singers are invited to join the Commonwealth Chorale in rehearsing Georg Frideric Handel’s magnificent oratorio “Messiah” in preparation for performances in December.

Rehearsals begin Oct. 10, 7-10 p.m. at the Farmville Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 200 W. Third St. All singers are welcome; no auditions are required. Young singers age 12 and above are also invited to participate. Performances will take place at 3 p.m. on Dec. 3 at Crenshaw United Methodist Church in Blackstone and at 3 p.m. on Dec. 10 at Farmville United Methodist Church.

For further information on rehearsals, performances or on the Commonwealth Chorale, call (434) 392-7545 or visit the Chorale’s website at or Facebook page at

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“As one of the best-known and most loved oratorios of all time, ‘Messiah’ needs little introduction,” officials said in a press release. “It has been a fixture of the holiday season all over the world for generations, especially in Britain and the U.S.”

According to the release, for many choirs and orchestras, a performance of Handel’s masterpiece is the high point of the year.

“As the Christmas season approaches, audiences flock to hear the beloved work performed, sales of recordings soar, and no festival concert would be complete without at least a rendition of the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus,” officials said in the release. “However, ‘Messiah’ was not conceived as or originally performed as a Christmas piece.”

The release cited Librettist Charles Jennens drew his inspiration from both the Old and New Testaments of the King James Bible. Only the first third of his manuscript covered the birth of Jesus.

“The main emphasis of the work was on Christ’s death and resurrection. Thus it was regarded as being primarily associated with Easter rather than with Advent, as in modern times,” officials said in the release.  “Indeed, the premiere performance took place during the Lenten season of 1742.”

According to the release, though born in 1685 in Halle, Germany, Handel went to England in 1712 to live and work, where he established his reputation in Italian opera. As public taste in music changed, he began writing English oratorios, which achieved wide acclaim, firmly establishing his reputation in London and abroad. When he received the Messiah libretto from Jennens, he immediately recognized its commercial possibilities and began composing the music, finishing in only 24 days.

“Because the work was sacred music, but was intended for popular entertainment in a concert hall or theatre rather than a church, Handel must have known that clerical authorities would disapprove of the production,” officials said in the release. “This may explain why he inscribed the letters ‘SDG’ (Soli Deo Gloria), ‘To God alone the glory,’ at the end of his manuscript.”