Choirs, orchestras to present concert MondayWHS, WMS ensembles to take stage; 'Messiah' to be featured
By: Jane Turpin Moore, Worthington Daily Globe
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan…
Snow had fallen, snow on snow; snow on snow…
— from “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Christina Rossetti
WORTHINGTON — During December’s darkest days, the path to the holidays will be lit with music provided by District 518 student musicians.
In concert this Monday evening at the Worthington High School (WHS) gymnasium, Worthington Middle School (WMS) choir, band and orchestra students perform at 6:30 p.m., followed at 8 p.m. by WHS musicians rendering portions of George Frideric Handel’s famous oratorio, “Messiah.”
“I like this concert because it’s the only one of the whole year when all three of the middle school groups—choir, band and orchestra—perform,” commented WMS vocal instructor Cindy Anderson. “It’s a great chance for the parents and community to see the full range of musical activities in which the kids are involved.”
Anderson’s 275 vocal students, spanning sixth through eighth grades, will present pieces ranging from “Tiny King” to a Renaissance-style “Sing with Joy, Sing Noel” to a swinging arrangement of the spiritual “Go, Tell it on the Mountain.”
Appropriate given recent weather patterns, “In the Bleak Midwinter” is one of the four numbers the 40-member WMS orchestra will play; they will also tackle Handel’s “Entrance of the Queen of Sheba” and a medley of modern Christmas tunes.
“We’re eager to share our music,” said District 518 orchestra director Melanie Loy, “and rehearsing for the concert is a fun way to spend our school days right up to the holiday break.”
WMS band students, under the direction of Mike Andersen, will share a few selections, as well.
The 71 musicians in the seventh and eighth grade combined band will lead off the 6:30 p.m. concert with a Mannheim Steamroller arrangement of “Deck the Halls,” and follow that up with a similarly styled version of “Still, Still, Still.” Andersen leads his 47 sixth-grade band students in the march from “The Nutcracker,” along with a collection of Christmas tunes.
“We have some awesome arrangements,” enthused Andersen. “It’s nice when I’m able to pick things the kids can play well and enjoy at the same time, and that’s the case here.”
The centerpiece of the WHS concert is what is commonly known as the Christmas section of “Messiah,” including five choruses (“And the Glory of the Lord,” “For Unto Us a Child is Born,” “O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings,” “Glory to God,” and “Hallelujah”) and a full complement of guest soloists: soprano Elizabeth Bushard, mezzo-soprano Clara Presser, tenor Mike Wesselink and bass Eric Parrish.
“All of our soloists have sung in world-class ensembles and are amazing musicians,” assured Joseph Osowski, WHS choral director. “We’re very fortunate to have this caliber of soloists, and I’m excited for the students to hear these professionals perform.”
The WHS orchestra will accompany the combined WHS Concert and Trojan choirs, numbering 160 voices, on the “Messiah” choruses, while Liz Berger will accompany the soloists.
“I think the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus is the orchestra’s favorite with the choir,” said Loy, “and the orchestra has also been enjoying the overture, which starts out slow but progresses into an allegro tempo.
“We’ve been rehearsing ‘Messiah’ music since the end of October, and this is a work the kids will enjoy through their lives, as they may have the chance to perform it in college or with other community groups in the future.”
The WHS concert band directed by Jon Loy joins the fun, too, providing prelude music—the popular “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson among those tunes—and accompaniment for a carol sing-along with the audience and choirs.
Osowski praises the work of the students in learning “Messiah.”
“This is not easy music,” asserted Osowski, “but they’re doing a nice job and advancing every day. It’s so rare to have a high school choir do this with an orchestra, so it’s our strong orchestra program and a community that’s supportive of music that make it possible, along with the efforts of our students.”
When the first strains of the beloved “Hallelujah” chorus ring out, attendees may even briefly forget the recent swirling snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures.
“The audience is welcome to rise and join us in the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus,” assured Osowski. “The experience of singing ‘Messiah’ in high school is something these kids will remember for the next 50 years.”
The Worthington Middle School and Worthington High School bands, choirs and orchestras will perform at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday at the Worthington High School gymnasium; the concerts were rescheduled from a previously announced date due to weather concerns. The concerts are free and open to the public.