Handel's 'Messiah'

Area vocalists have made
'Messiah' a success

Historic Madison Inc. sponsors Festival of Music

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

MADISON, Ind. (December 2003) – According to tradition, upon first hearing the “Hallelujah Chorus” movement of Handel’s “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 Yuletide classic.
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

Photo provided

HMI's 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. John’s Catholic Church of Carrollton.
Grobmeyer passed along her enthusiasm for performing and her fondness for the “Messiah” to her daughter, Mary Ellis Coombs, also of Carrollton.
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 said.

Madlen Batchvarova
Madlen Batchvarova

Hanover College music professor Madlen Batchvarova will direct this year’s 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.
“It’s truly a community event,” said Batchvarova, who counted among the choir’s 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. Michael’s 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 cast.
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 Music.

For more information, contact Kim Franklin Nyberg at Historic Madison Inc., (812) 265-2967, or call the visitors bureau at (812) 265-2956.



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