12012010martin.gifThe Cumberland Oratorio Singers will perform George Frideric Handel’s Messiah during a free concert scheduled Dec. 4 beginning at 4 p.m. at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Michael Martin, director of Choral Activities and Music Education at Methodist University and COS artistic director, leads and conducts the 18-year-old group of approximately 60 singers.

This holiday tradition is scheduled a little earlier than it has been in past years, but the format is still the same. It’s called a Christmas concert, but the group is really trying to represents more of a holiday theme. There is a spiritual, a Hanukkah piece and we have some seasonal pieces associated with the holidays.

“It is the opening for us, of the Christmas season,” said Cumberland Oratorio Singers President Mary Potter. “In fact, this year we are doing it a week earlier than we normally do. We’ll be right ups there at the beginning of the season to sing.”

If you are new in town or if this will be your first time to view the walk-in Messiah here in Fayetteville, this is how it works. Walk-in means that the Cumberland Oratorio Singers are performing the piece, but they welcome anyone to join them — for that song.

“We have a few traditional Christmas and Hanakkuh songs to sing before we sing the Messiah. The songs we do in the beginning celebrate everyone’s holidays,” said Potter. “But when it comes time to sing the Messiah we welcome anyone to come join us up front — or to sing in their own seats, should they bring their own scores as we dont’ have any score to give them.”

There will be a practice at 10 a.m. on Dec. 4, if you are planning to participate and want to practice with the- COS for that part of it.

Adding some holiday splendor to an already impressive performance, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra is providing the instrumental music.

“It really is a community effort to put this on,” said Potter. “The church and the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the singers who com to join us — it is fun and it kicks off the season. It stars things off right the holidays and boosts everyone’s morale.”

This long-standing tradition usually packs the house, so Potter suggests coming early to get a good seat (or any seat really). While there are usually extra chairs in the back, the modest space is usually standing-room only.

“My favorite thing about this is that it is for the community,” said Potter. “Anyone can come and join us — it is an open call. Come sing with us — that to me is more of a community feeling that we are offering to our Fayetteville brothers and sisters, that we are asking them to come join us for this yearly performance. That, to me, is what community is about.

Whether you are joining the walk-in or enjoying the performance from the pew, you can find out more at www.cumberlandoratoriosingers. org

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