Most years at least one of the major Northeast Ohio orchestras – the Cleveland Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire, the Akron Symphony Orchesta, or the Canton Symphony – slates a November or December performance of Handel’s beloved oratorio, Messiah. This year (2011), though, none of them has programmed that famous oratorio. Nevertheless, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to hear it.
Ross Duffin’s chorus, Quire Cleveland, is offering a Messiah performance as part of the Chagrin Valley Chamber Music Concert Series. They’ll sing with conductor Michael Gelfand and the Cleveland Virtuosi. Soloists: Dorota Sobieska, Lara Nie, Daniel Doty, and Brian Keith Johnson. It’s Saturday 3 December, 7:30pm, at Valley Lutheran Church, 87 East Orange Street, Chagrin Falls.
Orrville Community Chorus will present their 68th annual reading of Messiah on 4 December at 7pm. It’ll be performed at Central Christian School, 3970 Kidron Road, Kidron. The chorus and soloists will be accompanied by a 12-member chamber orchestra and piano.
This year’s will be the Cleveland Messiah Chorus‘s 90th performance of Handel’s famed oratorio. Virginia Wieland-Mast will conduct at Grace Lutheran Church, 13001 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights. It’s Sunday, 27 November, 7pm. As with public radio, the admission is free, but they’ll gladly accept your monetary offering.
Various area churches will present programs including excerpts and, in some cases, substantial portions of Messiah.
Some of them even invite you to join in. One such reading will be on 27 November, when Canton’s Christ Presbyterian Church, 530 West Tuscarawas Street, will offer their 3rd annual Messiah singalong. If you’ve sung Messiah, or if you’re a good sight-singer, you can take your score along and add your own voice. If you’d rather just listen, you can discover the heady feeling of immersing yourself completely in Handel’s music.
On 11 December at 5pm, Samuel Gordon will lead First Congregational Church’s Festival Choir, Singers Companye, and a chamber orchestra in Part One (the Nativity sequence) of Handel’s Messiah. First Congregational is located at 292 E Market St, Akron.
If you don’t mind a bit of a hike, the Cincinnati Symphony and May Festival Chorus will offer Messiah on the 18th of December at 2pm. It’s at Cincinnati Music Hall, 1241 Elm St. The Toledo Symphony‘s reading will be at 8pm on the 3rd and 4th of December, at Peristyle Theater, 2445 Monroe Street. The Dayton Philharmonic‘s is set for Sunday 11 December at 4pm, at Dayton’s Westminster Presbyterian Church.
One of the more intriguing Messiah performances this year is the one being assembled by the Pittsburgh Symphony and Mendelssohn Choir. This dramatization of the work reportedly de-emphasizes the three sections’ religious interpretations – Nativity, Passion, and Resurrection – and re-imagines them as eras in American history – the 1950s, the present, and the years round the turn of the 20th century. PSO music director Manfred Honeck will conduct. As in an opera, soloists Laura Heimes, Lindsay Ammann, William Ferguson, and Philip Cutlip will be costumed on a set stage, and the orchestra will play from the pit. Performances are on 2, 3, and 4 December.
Know of a Messiah performance that I’ve missed? Add it in the comments below!