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Community Choir Performs Handel’s ‘Messiah’ for Easter

May 05, 2016 01:40PM ● Published by Amanda Butler

By Amanda Butler | amanda@mycityjournals.com

Midvale - The Midvale Community Messiah is a group of musicians who have been performing Handel’s “Messiah” for over 25 years. Their most recent performance was held on March 20 at Union High School in celebration of the Easter holiday.

The “Messiah” is an oratorio, a musical story that includes an orchestra, choir and soloists. It was composed by George Friedric Handel in 1741 in just 24 days, and has been performed throughout the world ever since then. The oratorio tells the story of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as written in the King James Bible. It has been performed in Midvale since 1984, and the majority of the choir is from the Midvale area.

“It started with just a chorus and a pianist and an organist at first,” Jan Litster, one of the choir’s directors, said. “Then we added some strings to it the next year or two years later. Now we have usually between about 65–85 singers and about a 35-piece orchestra.”

As the choir grew, it was necessary to find space for the larger group, as well as a larger audience.

“We started doing it at one of the LDS stake centers and then they expanded it to Hillcrest High, and we’ve kind of gone back and forth with it since then,” Litster said.

The choir also added director positions.

“We’ve gone from having one director to a couple of directors to even three directors these last few years, to give as many people as would like to an opportunity to participate,” Litster said. “Linda Mansfield was the first director of the choir and she was involved for many, many years. I’ve been off and on doing some of the directing since the second year.”

“The full oratorio is over two and a half hours,” Litster said. “We do about one and a half hours worth — we don’t do the full ‘Messiah.’ We usually do about eight or nine choruses — the most well known is the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus. Then we have several soloists that are chosen from members of the choir.”

Litster estimated that 500–600 people attended the performance this year, which was the choir’s first time performing the “Messiah” at Easter. 

“We’ve always done it at Christmas. This year we decided to try something a little different and do it at Easter,” Litster said. “I think we’re planning on doing it again at Easter next year because we felt like it really worked out well — people weren’t as crazy busy. The ‘Messiah’ was originally written to be performed at Easter, not Christmas.”

Another change this year was the addition of images to go along with the music.

“Something we did this year that we’ve never done, which was a real nice addition, I thought, was we prepared a slide presentation that went along with the message of the numbers the choir were singing,” Litster said. “So we did that with pictures of the birth, life and resurrection of the savior.”

Though the choir will not be performing again this year, they are always happy to welcome new members.

“We invite anybody who would like to come and join us to come and sing with us, especially from the Midvale area,” Litster said. “We have eight one-and-a-half-hour rehearsals for the eight weeks before the performance. We have a full orchestra with it.”

More information about the choir and the performance can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MidvaleCommunityMessiah/    

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