Magical Messiah

Remember the first time you heard George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah?”

Maybe you were young, holding Grandpa’s hand and looking up at the stage in wonder, stunned by the spiritual power of the human voice. What could match an array of singers building to the powerful, joyous “Hallelujah” chorus?

That first “Messiah” encounter might have been around Christmas time. Composed in 1741, the choral masterpiece was intended for performance during Lent and at Easter, celebrating Christ’s resurrection after his crucifixion.

Instead, it has become more of a Christmas tradition, used to mark the birth of the savior.

The $145 million, state-of-the-art Green Music Center opened only last year, but its presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” is already well on its way to becoming a Sonoma County winter tradition.

The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas McGegan, plus the Philharmonia Chorale and four soloists, directed by Bruce Lamott, return Dec. 15 to perform Handel’s masterwork for the second time in the center’s Weill Hall, on the Sonoma State University campus in Rohnert Park.

People are still talking about last year’s elegant performance. In the towering, acoustically sophisticated Weill Hall, the ensemble, nationally known for its expert handling of Baroque music, captured the awe and reverence inherent in Handel’s “Messiah.”

Tickets for the performance, which begins at 3 p.m., are priced from $40 to $85. 866-955-6040, gmc.sonoma.edu.

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