100-voice Concord choir to sing 'Messiah'

More than 100 voices will perform selections from Handel's "Messiah" twice this weekend, making it one of the largest community choral gatherings ever in Cabarrus County.

The Piedmont Choral Society, which has about 50 members, will sing with the sanctuary choirs from two Concord churches: First Presbyterian and Central United Methodist.

"I think people are going to be amazed at the quality of the sound," said Kay Yates, president of the choral society. "It's going to be a wonderful experience."

The joint choral effort grew out of a performance of John Rutter's "Requiem" in the spring, which involved the choral society and First Presbyterian choir. One goal of the choral society is to reach out into the community, so the group asked Central UMC to join them for Handel's "Messiah."

"Messiah" was written in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, who had made a name for himself writing Italian opera. He lived in England and wrote "Messiah" in English in response to the growing popularity of opera in the language.

The oratorio sets scripture to music to tell the story of the life of Jesus Christ and its meaning, including prophecies, his birth, his death and his resurrection.

The performance at First Baptist Church in Concord will feature the first section of "Messiah" and the famous "Hallelujah" chorus. An orchestra of strings and organ featuring musicians from the Charlotte Symphony and UNC Charlotte will accompany the combined choirs.

Jeff Price, choirmaster at First Presbyterian, will conduct the performance, which should last about an hour and a half and will not have an intermission. Singers from each choir will perform the solos in the piece.

"This sort of collaboration in the community is extremely important and valuable," Price said. "Hopefully we come together to bring to life a piece of music that means a lot to many different people."

Price said music from "Messiah" is familiar to many people, and the performance by the combined choirs could become a regular Christmas experience.

"It's a way that parents and grandparents might bring children to help them start a musical tradition," he said.