If you go
What: Handel’s Messiah
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16
Where: Jamestown High School Theater
Admission: free; freewill offering
George Frideric Handel’s Messiah strikes a chord in the people who perform it. So much so that in Jamestown, some who perform in it return to perform in it again.
Handel’s Messiah, which will be performed Monday, Dec. 16, in the Jamestown High School Theater, is an oratorio performed every other year here, said Cheryl McIntyre, who conducts the JHS Concert Choir.
“It’s one of the most famous pieces that’s ever been written,” she said. “ .... being done somewhere around the world since 1742 and so it’s a great historical piece, it’s a challenging piece for everybody, but they enjoy singing it.”
The Jamestown High School Choir and Orchestra will perform first during the evening and McIntyre said the choir will perform some “spiced up Christmas carols and some music from the Pentatonix.” The Messiah will be the second portion of the concert, which will feature the community and high school groups. The entire concert is expected to last about an hour and 15 minutes, and proceeds from the freewill offerings are expected to be donated to local causes.
“Actually, the Messiah has typically been used as a benefit concert,” McIntyre said.
Handel’s Messiah has three sections and music for this performance will be from the first section, known as the Prophecy or Christmas section. Four well-known choruses and solos will be performed. Soloists include Sofia Czerwinska, Caroline Kiser, Alexis Smith, Annika Tweten, Meghan Ray and Catherine Suckow.
Heidi Tyson is one of the alumni who is returning for her fourth performance, having participated twice in high school and another time since returning here to live. But this year she’s also singing with her daughter, Maddy, an eighth grader, and her father, John Carlson, who are both performing in it for the first time.
“It’s one of the few ways that you can still be, like in a choir at this age,” Tyson said of why she participates. “... We don’t have the (Jamestown) Choralaires for women, so there’s just not a lot of opportunities, so just to be able to come back and be part of a choir ... I love it.”
Maddy is not learning Handel’s Messiah in school, like the other choir and orchestra students who will perform. McIntyre said students younger than grades 9-12 can participate if they can learn the material.
McIntyre said there are 55 community members participating in the Messiah performance in either the choir or the orchestra. Altogether, there are from 160 to 170 people performing.
Jennifer Michalenko conducts the JHS Orchestra. For this performance, McIntyre will sing rather than conduct the choir, leaving those duties to Michalenko.
“This year I get to sing, so I’m excited about that,” McIntyre said.
For Scott Bennett, a member of the Jamestown Choralaires, performing is a chance to sing with his children, Emma, Zoe and Alex, who will return from the University of North Dakota to participate.
“It’s fun,” Emma said. “We get to see him (dad) perform a lot and he sees us perform a lot so it’s kind of cool that we get to do it together because there aren’t really a lot of places that would have an opportunity like that.”
Like Heidi Tyson, Laura Weis, a teacher in Jamestown Public Schools, is also a returning performer, with this her third Messiah. It’s also the first official time with son Ian, a junior, who planned to perform in an earlier Messiah but became ill on the day of the performance.
“I just started doing it when my daughter (Ashlyn) was in high school,” Weis said, noting her daughter took part in it also. This year marks the first time all three will perform.
“I would imagine I’ll be doing it as long as I’m healthy," Laura Weis said. "It’s a great collaboration with the kids. And it’s fun for me because I teach and then I come back and see kids because a lot of alumni come back, a lot of Cheryl and Jenny’s former students come back and sing.”
McIntyre said people enjoy the opportunity to perform in a choral or orchestral setting which is different from individually playing an instrument or singing. She has thought about doing other pieces, but the community looks forward to doing the Messiah, she said.
“I really think that the benefit of the students seeing people doing music as a lifelong activity is really important,” she said.