17th Annual Messiah To Perform Sunday Dec. 3 at Calvary

Event at Calvary Presbyterian, 4 p.m. features the South Pasadena Community Chorus

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | Calvary Music Director Mike Wilson will direct Sunday’s performance

A proud tradition that has captivated audiences over the years returns on Sunday, Dec. 3, as the Messiah will be performed at Calvary Presbyterian Church in South Pasadena.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | The choir rehearses for The Messiah at Calvary Presbyterian Church in South Pasadena

The popular event, now in its 17th year, starts at 4 p.m., and will be under the direction of Mike Wilson and feature the South Pasadena Community Chorus. Its origin dates to September 11, 2001, following the terrorist attacks of the Twin Towers in New York City and other targets around the country. Wilson says the initial Messiah was designed to bring the community together and has become a hit ever since.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | Members of the chorus were busy rehearsing last Saturday for the performance

“The place gets packed, the orchestra is beautiful and the singers are wonderful,” said Wilson, Calvary’s music director. “The quality of the performance is superb.”

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Putting in long rehearsals during the month of November has been a dedicated group of 50 choir members. “They’re brave souls,” explained a joking Wilson.  “They come from near and far. We have some from Orange County, Santa Clarita, all over Los Angeles and, of course, many from Pasadena and South Pasadena.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | Mike Wilson directs the chorus in The Messiah

Approximately 20 orchestra members and a group of soloists will round out the performance.

Among those in the choir will be Suzanne Kahane, who commutes to South Pasadena from Sherman Oaks to be a part of the weekly practice sessions in preparation for Sunday’s event.

“The generosity of heart, the generosity of talent is so inspiring,” said Kahane, when asked why she’s willing to put in the demands of two-hour rehearsals each week.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | Members of the chorus working hard at rehearsal for The Messiah

After watching the Messiah from the audience one year, she decided to become a participant, and been a part of the choir the past four years. “It’s just a beautiful, beautiful experience,” she said.

Another choir member, Jessica Stevermer from North Hollywood, looks forward to making the weekly trek to Calvary Presbyterian Church to work on the show.  “It’s just moving and emotional,” she said about the Messiah. “You can really experience the piece of music from start to finish, which I think keeps bringing people back year-after-year.”

Stevermer also believes the Messiah “puts you in the holiday spirit,” she said, adding: “It reminds you that it’s the spirit of giving.”

Former South Pasadena Board of Education member and current resident Pat Martinez-Miller said the Messiah has become a part of “what we call our community outreach within the church,” she said. “The people in the choir represent multiple languages, multiple places of birth and they come together to sing beautiful transforming music.”

The Messiah, composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741, debuted in Dublin on April 13, 1742 and historians say was composed in just 24 days – a remarkable feat.

There is no admission charge for Sunday’s event, however donations are welcome.

Calvary Presbyterian Church is at Fremont and Oxley streets. Parking is in the rear of the church on El Centro St.