Fayetteville is a town steeped in tradition, especially during the holidays. From festivals to decorated outdoor spaces to shows and concerts, there is no shortage of things to do and ways to celebrate. The Cumberland Oratorio Singers has a special place in the community, especially during the Christmas season. The Hallelujah Chorus – Messiah Sing brings a sense of celebration and worship that, for many, is reserved for this special time of year. On Saturday, Dec. 12, join the Cumberland Oratorio Singers at Berean Baptist Church for this year’s rendition of the Christmas classic.

Dr. Michael Martin is the director of this choral group. This is an event that he looks forward to each year. “The concert will open with five pieces of the December season, and then we will perform the first part of Messiah, along with ‘Hallelujah!’ from the second part,” he said. “For the people who want to be entertained and not sing along, there is much to enjoy, along with four professional soloists: Anne Rogers and Brenda Vandervort (both from Fayetteville), Melvin Ezzel from Wilmington and Joshua Conyers, from Winston-Salem.” 

The public often joins the performance of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” To do so, the person must have their own copy of Messiah, and have it in a black cover or folder. Walk-ons the night of the performance can still participate. People who walk-in wanting to sing sit in a designated area. That way, they do not end up standing in front of people who wish to simply watch and listen, Martin noted.

With so many activities to choose from, this event stands out for Martin as an important part of what makes Fayetteville such a great community. “I don’t know about you, but 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,” he said. “We also want to preserve that basic aspect of this event: the concert/community sing. However, this event is not unique to Fayetteville. It happens all over the country! 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.”

Even so, like everything else about this city, it is the eclectic mix of people that show up for the event that make it special. “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. I guess I will channel my Forrest Gump and refer to the box of chocolates; I never know what I’m going to get. But that’s part of the fun,” said Martin.

The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Berean Baptist Church is located at 517 Glensford Dr. in Fayetteville. Find out more at www.singwithcos.org

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