Musicians can perform ‘Messiah’ for fun and funds

December 10, 2013

By Joe Grove

Musicians will gather for the fifth annual “Sing & Play Along Messiah” Dec. 15 at St. Michaels & All Angels Episcopal Church.

Any instrumentalists, vocalists or spectators can participate in the nonrehearsed event, under the direction of Jason Anderson, associate for liturgical arts at the church.

The event raises funds for the Merry Christmas Issaquah fund.

“We invite instrumentalists and singers to join us for part one of the ‘Messiah,’ which is considered the Christmas portion,” Anderson said.

The “Hallelujah Chorus” is part of another section, he said, but since it is so popular, they will finish the performance with it.

Anderson said there are no rehearsals and no auditions.

“The only thing that I have prearranged, which I have done for the past few years, is soloists to cover some of the solos,” he said. “I’ll sing a solo or two, and I’ve got a soprano and alto or two I’ve worked with before, coming to donate their time and talent.”

Anderson said a singalong is not that much different from the original performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” He wrote it as a benefit piece for a hospital, with little time for rehearsals.

Anderson said participation in the event has increased significantly.

“The first year we had one violin, one cello, me on the keyboard, and 40 to 45 folks singing and listening,” he said. “Last year, we had an orchestra of about eight people, plus me on the keyboard, and about 80 people who came to sing.

“When you have folks of differing skill levels and abilities in terms of their musicianship, there is something magical that happens when you pull a large group of people together,” he added. “Suddenly, a weak singer feels very supported by a stronger singer and the whole is better because of that.”

The amount of donations has also grown.

“The other thing that has increased is the amount of money we have been able to donate to the Merry Christmas Issaquah fund,” Anderson said. “The first year, we gave just under $1,000. Last year, we had $2,500 and change.

“There are other singalongs in the Seattle area where the participants actually pay a fee so they can perform in it,” he added. “We don’t do that. We provide (musical) scores and just invite folks who want to sing, and if they have money to donate, good.”

Teresa Lin has participated in the event since its beginning. She and Anderson were graduate students together.

If you go

‘Sing & Play Along Messiah’
2:30 p.m. Dec. 15
St. Michaels & All Angels Episcopal Church
325 S.E. Darst St.
Arrive early if you plan to participate as a musician.

“When he told me he was considering a singalong ‘Messiah,’ I said ‘OK, I’m in. Where can I go to participate?’” Lin said. “What Jason does as a music director is create an environment that even if you don’t know the music that well, or if you don’t feel like you are an accomplished musician, you can still come, make music and have fun.

“It is one of those things that if you love Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and you really feel that it helps get you in the Christmas spirit, it is one of the best ways to do it,” she added. “The enthusiasm is growing every year and the numbers are growing every year.”

Anderson encourages instrumentalists to bring a music stand if they have one. He said the church provides the musical scores. A reception will follow the performance. The music begins at 2:30 p.m., so musicians should get there a little early, Anderson said.


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