A long-standing tradition in Mesa, the community is asked to once again participate in a sing-along of Handel’s “Messiah” to increase the East Valley holiday spirit.
For about 20 years, the Hermosa Vista & Citrus Heights Stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has hosted the sing-along, which includes the Christmas portion of the “Messiah” and a few additional choruses and solo numbers. This year’s event will be on Dec. 15 at the LDS chapel at 2549 N. 32nd St. in Mesa.
Community members of all faiths are asked to bring their own sheet music or borrow from the church and rise and sing to the music of a full orchestra and organ.
“There are so many people who are connoisseurs of the Messiah and they look for places where they can participate,” said returning director Marc Denton, the director of choral music studies at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
For Denton, his attachment to Handel’s “Messiah” is personal. He was introduced to it as a young boy and began singing as an alto before his voice changed. Since then, he has performed Handel’s “Messiah” with Arizona State University multiple times at Grady Gammage Auditorium. The sing-along version of Handel’s “Messiah” in Mesa originated after Denton was called within the Church to direct it.
“It’s one of the greatest choral works, if not the greatest choral work,” Denton said.
About eight years ago, a parent of a student in Dr. Walt Temme’s orchestra class at Mountain View High School encouraged Temme to participate in the orchestra for the community sing-along event. All these years later, Temme continues to be a part of the orchestra and is now the concert master.
“It has become quite the annual gathering,” Temme said.
Temme said the event allows him to catch up with friends and see some of his former students who now participate. But the biggest reason he continues to come out each year centers on one thing: the music.
“I really like the piece,” Temme said. “I just like playing the tune.”
When the sing-along began years ago, Denton said they had about 200 participants. Now, they expect around 600 people to come and sing.
When Denton conducts, he faces the audience and during every chorus, the audience is encouraged to stand and sing toward the orchestra, leading to a unique and powerful sound.
“It’s very exhilarating,” Denton said.
There will also be professional soloists for the audience’s listening pleasure. Many members of the community enjoy becoming a part of the performance while also having the opportunity to hear the soloists and orchestra.
“Once they come, they get a little hooked and they want to find out when it is the next year,” Denton said.