Aspen Choral Society to perform Handel’s ‘Messiah’ tonight, Saturday
Hundreds of Aspenites look forward to the Aspen Choral Society’s annual Christmastime performances of Handel’s “Messiah.”
The productions of the seasonal classic, which mark their 25th year this week, regularly pack St. Mary’s Catholic Church with music lovers looking for a hit of holiday bliss.
But there is probably no one who needs those performances of the “Messiah” like Ray Adams. For much of the year, Adams is holed up in his Hunter Creek apartment, at work on the solitary, soul-challenging task of composing choral music.
For Adams, emerging from the compositional task to conduct the “Messiah,” as he has for a quarter-century, is a welcome relief.
“It got me out of the house, seeing people again, perhaps feeling a little bit more alive. That’s a good thing,” said Adams, who led the Aspen Choral Society in performances of the “Messiah” this week in Glenwood Springs, and concludes the “Messiah” run tonight and tomorrow at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, at 7:30 p.m. “I’m not tired of it, and this is my 25th year. The music lifts me. It helps. I go to the score, and it’s like revisiting an old friend every year.
“As long as the audience isn’t tired of it, neither am I.”
Vocal soloists for the “Messiah,” composed by Handel in Dublin in 1741, are sopranos Jen Laverman, Marni White, Marty Begly, Kathy Pelowski, Stacey Weiss and Susan Anderson; altos Kaaren Ray and Carol Blanchard; tenor Daniel Fosha; and basses Virgil Simon and Jeremy Moore.
The chorus will feature some 140 voices, and will be backed by the 25-piece Aspen Choral Society orchestra, consisting of musicians from the Roaring Fork Valley, the Front Range, Utah and Los Angeles.
This year’s “Messiah,” which features the combined forces of the Aspen Community Chorus and the Glenwood Springs Community Chorus, couldn’t come at a better time for Adams.
After composing such pieces as “Revelation,” which the Aspen Choral Society premiered last year, Adams has been at work on his most ambitious composition yet, a Requiem. He has completed nine “out of who knows how many” movements of the Requiem, which will have its premiere the first week of April in Harris Hall. Conducting the “Messiah” has given Adams a needed break from the Requiem.
“It [the Requiem] makes ‘Revelation’ look like ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips,'” he said of his latest creation. “It’s for a mixed chorus, where ‘Revelation’ was just for women. There are times when the choir splits into eight parts. And it’s a full orchestra, rather than just strings. It’s just bigger, much bigger.”
Adams began work on the Requiem last spring, then stopped for much of the summer, “because I was too low to write,” he said.
The “Messiah,” though, has revived his spirit. “Now we’re singing ‘Hallelujah!'” he said, referring to Handel’s famous “Hallelujah” chorus.
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After nine months of being shuttered due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Wheeler Opera House will reopen for local acts. A touchless reservation system will be open to 53 people for in-person at the venue. Online live streaming also will be available.