Choir members sing during a 2007 rehearsal of “The Messiah”  at Homer High School, the last time the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra performed Handel’s oratorio.-Homer News file photo

Choir members sing during a 2007 rehearsal of “The Messiah” at Homer High School, the last time the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra performed Handel’s oratorio.-Homer News file photo

Hallelujah! Community sings together again

Feel like singing? This Monday at the Homer High School Winter Concert an old tradition will make an encore — and the community is invited to join in.

It’s been seven years since the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra performed George Friedrich Handel’s oratorio, “Messiah,” in its entirety, and nearly 15 years have passed since the orchestra did it as a community sing-along at Christmas. 

But Homer High School choir director, Kyle Schneider, is going to revive some of the highlights at this year’s band and choir concert and hopes to reawaken interest in community singing. 

Schneider said that community singing of the “Messiah” is a long-standing tradition throughout English-speaking parts of the world. Although Handel composed it as an Easter performance, it is by far more popular at Christmastime. A lot of people have sung it in their past, he said, and because it’s such a familiar piece, it’s a great way to get people together to sing again.

The libretto, or text, for the “Messiah” was adapted by Charles Jennens, who combined scriptures from the Old and New Testaments concerning the Messiah. Jennens brought the libretto to Handel, who composed the score in 1741-42. 

Monday night’s offering will be about 12 or 14 minutes of the most popular choruses, “For unto us a child is born,” “And the Glory of the Lord,” and the “Hallelujah” chorus. 

Community members who have rehearsed with the choir will join in from the audience, and members of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, as well as middle and high school students, will accompany on stage. 

The high school choir has been rehearsing the choruses in class, along with two other pieces for the concert, and Schneider said the students are excited about performing with other members of the community. 

A final community rehearsal is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at the high school, and Schneider said he wants lots of people there. 

“Don’t be shy. Come sing with us,” he said.

Laura Norton, who plays clarinet with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, said the orchestra used to do an annual Christmas sing-along of the “Messiah” in Homer in the 1980s and 90s. Over the years, interest waned and fewer and fewer people showed up to sing‚ or to listen. So they stopped doing it. 

Why bring it back?

“It’s fabulous music,” said Norton, adding that she suspects the “Hallelujah” chorus is probably the most well known or recognized of any piece of music.

“Singing together gives you a feeling that you can’t get from anywhere else,” she said, describing it as “universal human joy.” 

“Music crosses all boundaries,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do or even what language you speak.”

The high school jazz and concert bands, as well as the swing choir, also will perform on Monday night. 

Admission is by donation and all proceeds benefit the Homer High School music program.  

The concert starts at 7 p.m. 

Toni Ross is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.

Homer High School Winter Concert

When: 

7 p.m. Monday

Where: 

Mariner Theatre

Special features: 

Community singing of parts of Handel’s “Messiah”

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, as well as middle and high school students, will accompany on stage 

Admission: 

By donation; all proceeds benefit Homer High School’s music program


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