COSFor some people, the Christmas season is not complete without a performance of Handel’s Messiah (Part the First) and the Hallelujah Chorus. On Saturday, Dec. 17, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers presents Messiah Sing! at St. Ann Catholic Church. It’s a years-long tradition that the performers and the audience both look forward to each holiday season.

 “I think hearing Messiah ‘live’ is a powerful moment, with experiencing ‘Hallelujah!’ firsthand, it is a wonderful part of the Christmas season. If someone has not done this, they should do it at least once,” said Michael Martin, COS director. “Also, the majority of the musicians in the room are from Fayetteville! How great it is to know that we harbor such magnificent talent to bring this music to life.”

The concert opens with seven pieces, which are performed by the Campbellton Youth Chorus and the COS. Then after a small break, the COS will perform the first part of Messiah, along with “Hallelujah!” from the second part. In addition, the program includes four professional soloists: Anne Rogers and Brenda Vandervort (both from Fayetteville), Melvin Ezzell from Wilmington, and Jeffery Jones, from Myrtle Beach, S.C.

One of the things that makes this concert so special is its inclusiveness. The community is invited to a walk on performance of the “Hallelujah!” sing. To participate, people must have their own copy of Messiah and have it in a black cover or folder. If people would like to walk in at the concert and sing, they will be directed to sit in a designated area for people who wish to sing along. That way, they do not end up standing in front of people who wish to simply watch and listen.

For Martin, this is a fun performance. “Honestly, the best part of the concert is performing ‘Hallelujah!’ And I really enjoy getting to meet the soloists and work with an orchestra. Don’t get me wrong; I feel like I have the best seat in the house at every one of our concerts! But in this case, we probably utilize more people from every walk of life that want to be in the mix of our event. From professional singer/performer to the new singer/performer, we have it all,” he said. “But if you ask what is the best thing about this and every COS concert? It is that the idea of community needs to be preserved. Fayetteville, for as large as it is, actually feels more like a small town settled in a very big area. Our choir is Fayetteville’s community chorus and we want to preserve that as a basic premise of our mission. Our version of this event is much less formal than other organizations. In some of those events, people arrive in period dress to sing the piece. We do not, so I guess that we are a bit more casual about it. It’s fun and is a standard event throughout America.”

Martin noted that the COS is still accepting members.”The preparations for our March concert, ‘The Teacher and The Student’ will feature the music of Britten and Vaughn Williams. Our final concert of the year will be in May as we feature John Rutter’s ‘Gloria, and other music accompanied by brass, percussion, and organ. People will also want to stay tuned for what is becoming a summer tradition of the COS performing prior to the North Carolina Symphony at Festival Park in July,” he said.

The Messiah Sing starts at 7:30 p.m. Find out more at: http://www.singwithcos.org.

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