MADISON, Ind. (December 2003) According to tradition,
upon first hearing the Hallelujah Chorus movement of Handels
Messiah, King George II of England was so overcome with
emotion that he rose automatically from his seat. As was the custom,
the rest of the audience followed suit, establishing what would become
a tradition of standing for the familiar chorus which is still observed
during many live performances today.
Written in England in 1741 by German composer George Frederick Handel,
and premiered in Dublin, Ireland, in 1742, the Messiah
still strikes an emotional chord with contemporary audiences. Based
on Biblical texts of the New Testament, the popular Baroque oratorio
contains three parts: Christmas, Easter and Redemption. But it is
during the Christmas season that the arrangement is most frequently
performed, thus making it what many Americans regard as a quintessential
The Messiah will be performed again this year by the Madison-Ohio
Valley Community Chorus at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at St. Michael the
Archangel Church, a property of Historic Madison Inc. The church is
located in downtown Madison at 521 E. Third St.
Festival of Music.
Nancy Jo Grobmeyer of Carrollton, Ky., has been performing in the
Messiah with the community chorus for nearly 30 years.
She typically sings, in addition to the choruses, the soprano solo
for the recitative And suddenly there was with the Angel.
A member of the Carrollton city council as well as a private piano
and voice teacher, Grobmeyer called the Messiah the
most valuable musical experience of her life. It prepares
me for serious singing, said Grobmeyer, who also is the organist
and choir director at St. Johns Catholic Church of Carrollton.
Grobmeyer passed along her enthusiasm for performing and her fondness
for the Messiah to her daughter, Mary Ellis Coombs, also
Now a music teacher at Cartmell Elementary School and Carroll County
Middle School, Coombs was in just the seventh grade when she first
sang the Messiah alongside her mother with the First Baptist
Church of Carrollton under the direction of James F. Hacker. She will
perform in the Messiah this year with the community chorus
for the 18th season.
Also a soloist, Coombs has sang the soprano solo, Rejoice Greatly,
O Daughter of Zion, for several years. I like singing
the choruses and singing with the people who are there, she
Hanover College music professor Madlen Batchvarova will direct this
years presentation of the Messiah. A professional
singer, Batchvarova is very familiar with the oratorio, which she
has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under
the direction of maestro Robert Shaw. She will direct the Madison
performance for the second consecutive year.
Its truly a community event, said Batchvarova, who
counted among the choirs volunteer members an eclectic mix of
area residents, as well as many of her Hanover College music students.
(The students) really enjoy contributing to the community in
this way, she said.
The Messiah is an annual tradition of Holiday Weekends
in St. Michael The Archangel Church. In addition to the Messiah,
Holiday Weekends in St. Michaels will include on Friday, Dec.
12, at 7:30 p.m. a Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors,
presented by the Madison Performing Arts Foundation Inc. The heartwarming
story is about a poor shepherd boy, Amahl, and his mother who, despite
their poverty, offer their home to the three kings who are on their
way to visit the Christ Child. The production features an all-local
At 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, will be a Festival of Christmas Music sponsored
by Historic Madison Inc. The presentation will feature a collection
of community talent including performances by several church and school
choirs from the area. The program will conclude with a community sing-along.
Admission to the Messiah is $5, and tickets are available at The Madison
Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 601 W. First St. Admission is
free, with donations accepted, to Amahl and a Festival of Christmas
For more information, contact Kim Franklin Nyberg at Historic
Madison Inc., (812) 265-2967, or call the visitors bureau at (812)