By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
On Saturday, December 8th and Sunday, December 9th, the First Baptist Community Chorus will present Handel’s “Messiah” at 4 p.m. The event is free to the public and childcare is provided. This is the fourth annual Christmas program under direction of First Baptist Music Minister, Jonathan Rodgers.
The Community Chorus is made up of representatives from many different congregations with years of experience. There are 60 people in the choir, who will be accompanied by the University of Miss. Orchestra. There will be four guest soloists from the university as well.
Rodgers says, “This is a Christmas tradition and a great opportunity for people to come and sing, who perhaps could not have had this opportunity with a smaller congregation.
“They have been working really hard with two rehearsals a week since September. They are committed. It is a harder piece and they have really stepped up to the plate. It has been fun for the First Baptist Choir to work with other people they know in the community and form bonds.”
This sentiment is echoed by chorus members Sandra Stockstill and Blake Travis.
Stockstill said, “It has been so rewarding to work on the Messiah with our friends from other area churches. Thanks to Jonathan's vision and the desire of many who love to sing praises to God, this will be an awesome time of worship that the community should not miss. It has been a great deal of hard work but those from smaller choirs would never have had this opportunity if not for this joint community choir.” “It’s been great meeting fellow Christians who not only share a love of music but also a love of sharing the gospel through music. I can’t think of a better way for our community to come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, than through the musical presentation Handel’s Messiah,” said Travis.
Rodgers is particularly pleased with this year’s program because of the historical significance of the piece.
“Handel wrote the piece In 1741; he performed the first version in 1742, at a charity event. It is historically important because it has lasted for so long and is such a great work. It combines scripture with great music; a really powerful combination. It was originally performed for a charity event and has gone through several revisions by Handel. It has a really unique history being performed for kings, queens and royalty. Internationally, there are ‘Messiah’ singalongs by people that just gather together and sing— not as a performance just as a community event. It has that kind of influence.”
Chorus members are excited about the approaching performance and describe even the rehearsals as moving and deeply spiritual.
"Under the direction of our leader, Jonathan Rodgers, our group is learning how to articulate and perform Handel's ‘Messiah’ to show the true meaning of Christmas by teaching us to use his creative artistry in learning the correct crescendos, and inflections to define for the listener the true meaning of the story of Christ. I feel every year with his vision and talent, and our hard work, we will make this the best performance possible. Everyone who comes out to hear ‘Messiah’ should come away enlightened and inspired to add to their Christmas experience," said Jennifer Houston.