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Handel as it Was Meant to Be 

It's time to celebrate like it's 1742, because the Choirs of Christ Church Cathedral are teaming up with Indiana University's Baroque Orchestra to perform George Friedrich Handel's Messiah in all its original glory.

"We pride ourselves because we're the only historical performance of the work in town," says Dana Marsh, CCC's choir director.

click to enlarge The Choirs of Christ Church Cathedral will be performing Handel's "Messiah" with the IU Baroque Orchestra.
  • The Choirs of Christ Church Cathedral will be performing Handel's "Messiah" with the IU Baroque Orchestra.

Marsh explains that the performances will be close to what Handel himself might have heard, because of period instruments used by the Baroque Orchestra. The historical violins, trumpets, oboes and horns may look the same as modern ones used today, but they create a different sound--one that allows audiences to inhabit Handel's world in the 18th century.

Originally composed in 1741, Messiah, with the beloved Hallelujah Chorus, was met with middling enthusiasm at its 1743 London premiere, but it has since gained popularity and become one of the most-performed pieces of Western music. Marsh believes there is a depth to Handel's work that has caused it to endure and still connect to a 21st-century audience.

"Messiah is incredibly communicative work. Its range of emotion and its range of messages have something for everybody," says Marsh. "And we aim to craft together all these different messages in the strongest way so people really enjoy it and feel better for having heard it."

click to enlarge The CCC choirs have performed internationally.
  • The CCC choirs have performed internationally.

Handling challenging material is nothing new for the CCC choirs. They have performed internationally for years--singing at Westminster Abbey in London, Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Notre Dame in Paris, St. Mark's in Venice, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and in the cathedral at Chartres.

CCC has three different types of choirs: a Girls choir, a Men and Boys choir, and a mixed choir called Christ Church Singers. All of them will sing in the Messiah performances, so there will be performers ranging in age from 9 to 60 singing together.

Catch them at the Palladium on Friday or at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday for a dose of time travel this holiday season.

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