09COSWell into the 2017-18 concert season, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers are set to bring a choral Christmas performance to the Sandhills. Saturday, Dec. 16, don’t miss “We Sing to Remember” at First Baptist Church.

This is the first year for Jason Britt as the group’s director. “We are doing final preparations on ‘Messiah.’ We have one more rehearsal before the performance, and it is all going according to plan. I am holding on tight and enjoying the ride,” he said.

Two other groups are singing. One of them is the Campbellton Youth Chorus. “They are doing a couple of things – ‘Sing We Now of Christmas’ and an arrangement of ‘Christmas Time Is Here,’” Britt said. “The Cross Creek Chorale, which is an auditioned group within the Cumberland Oratorio Singers, is doing ‘O Magnum Mysterium,’ a Latin piece by Morten Lauridsen, and we are also performing Chesnokov’s ‘Salvation Is Created.’” And, of course, ‘Messiah.’”


Every year at Christmas, choral organizations across the country present part one of “Messiah.” It is an oratorio in three parts, Britt said. “It celebrates the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. Typically, about this time of year, we do the first section. The other two parts, they do around Easter. It has been done this way since the 1700s.”

This performance of “Messiah” is significant for Britt on several levels. “This is my first time directing ‘Messiah,’” he said.

Perhaps just as significant is that right out of college, he was asked to do a tenor solo for the piece. “Now 27 years later, I am directing the whole thing. It is surreal. Time has flown, and here I am now at the head of this wonderful organization. It is gratifying, and I am very excited to participate.”

As in years past, people can walk on the day of the performance. “All they need to do is have a score and to be dressed in all black for ladies and dark suits for men,” Britt said.

It is an early concert. “We could be done around 6:30 p.m.,” Britt said. “I hope people choose to stay downtown and make it a compete evening. There are so many nice restaurants downtown; it really is a nice way to complete the evening.”

The Cumberland Oratorio Singers’ spring concert is set for April 27 at Haymount United Methodist Church and is called “We Sing to Experience.” “It is made up of works every choir should perform,” Britt said. “They are works that, if you are in any chorus across America, you have probably performed. It includes pieces by Handel, Haydn, Copland – they are standard works. Good, traditional choral music.” That concert starts at 7:30 p.m.

For the Dec. 16 concert, tickets are $27 at the door for non-season ticket holders. Members and groups of 10 or more are $20 as are walk-ons. The performance starts at 5 p.m. Find out more at www. singwithcos.org.

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