Members of the Northwest Chorale perform Handel’s “Messiah” on Dec. 9 at Edmonds United Methodist Church in Edmonds. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Members of the Northwest Chorale perform Handel’s “Messiah” on Dec. 9 at Edmonds United Methodist Church in Edmonds. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Handel’s ‘Messiah’: A classic for the holidays

Northwest Chorale performed the 1741 musical story of Christ to raise money for Northwest Harvest.

EDMONDS — The story of Jesus Christ rang through the church sanctuary — a holiday concert on a grand scale.

Northwest Chorale brought Handel’s “Messiah” to Edmonds on Dec. 9. Dozens of musicians performed a free concert to a packed audience at the United Methodist Church on Caspers Street.

“It’s a very grand piece,” said Janice Klain, one of dozens of singers with the group. “It’s trying to tell a story and to tell it in a very musical and grand way. This particular piece tends to be associated with the Christmas holiday.”

Klain, an alto, also answers to the title of board president at Northwest Chorale, which performs free concerts each winter and spring. An offering was taken up during the Edmonds concert to raise money for Northwest Harvest, a statewide nonprofit food bank.

“Messiah” recounts the story of Christ, from the prophecies that foretold his coming, through birth, death, resurrection and everlasting glory.

“And the angel said unto them: ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,’ ” a soprano soloist sings in the first part. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

George Frideric Handel wrote “Messiah” in 1741. An English-language composition for orchestra, choir and soloists, it’s now one of the most widely performed works of classical music.

Many people recognize the Hallelujah chorus near the end of the second part. That’s a small part of the overall performance, which often lasts about three hours from beginning to end.

Northwest Chorale also performed “Messiah” in Seattle on Dec. 2. A singalong version is planned Dec. 29 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Seattle.

Conductor Lynn Hall directed the recent performances. He founded Northwest Chorale in the late 1970s under the name “A Musical Offering.” The nonprofit group describes itself as “civic-minded individuals who enjoy gathering to rehearse and perform great works of music.” It now includes more than 60 singers from the Puget Sound area.

Winter performances alternate “Messiah” every other year with seasonal choral works. In January, the group plans to start rehearsing for May performances of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Elijah.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Join in

Northwest Chorale plans a singalong, play-along version of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Seattle. A donation of $15 is suggested at the door to help cover future performance costs.

Location: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 111 NE 80th St, Seattle, WA 98115.

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