Highlight of the Christmas Season
Performance of Handel’s Messiah Returns to Russell
By Pamela Hall
The Ashland Beacon
Christmas is a time when families have many traditions that they observe. The traditions may be certain foods for dinner, whether they open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, or attending parades or Christmas program performances.
One such performance that has become a tradition for many families and performers alike, is the presentation of Handel’s Messiah at Plaza Community Church of the Nazarene in Russell. After a two year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, the presentation returns this year. The performance will be Sunday, Dec. 18 at 3:00 p.m.
Carl Taylor, who was the Minister of Music at the church for 51 years before retiring at the end of 2020, is the conductor for the program. He started the program in 2013 after the pastor at that time approached him about doing something “splashy” for Christmas. Taylor’s first thought was a performance of Handel’s Messiah.
“The first year we had it,” Taylor recalls with a laugh, “there came a big snow that morning, about seven inches. All of the performers, with the exception of one, were able to make it. Someone cleared the parking lot. I still don’t know who, and we ended up having about 200 – 300 in attendance.”
That attendance has only grown through the years. Attendance usually averages between 300 – 400 people.
The presentation consists of a choir and orchestra, which is made up of local volunteers. Several music teachers from various schools in the area participate each year. Dan Boyer, a former orchestra teacher at Paul Blazer High School, and a member of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, assists Taylor with getting the volunteer orchestra performers, which have in the past included his students.
There are several soloists in the performance. Andrew Hall, a former student of Taylor’s when he taught at Boyd County High School and a graduate of Morehead State University with a bachelor’s degree in music, is one such soloist.
“I have been singing in Messiah since the first concert in 2013 and have been the bass soloist since 2015,” says Hall. “I always look forward to singing in the concert every time we do it because I love singing with my friends and colleagues, which is always very special to me. But I love that it’s telling the story of the birth of Jesus and sharing the Gospel in a unique way. For me, it always puts me in a Christmas mood and reminds me the whole reason of why we celebrate.”
Handel’s Messiah tells about the life of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, in several sections. This presentation will include the Christmas section, in addition to two selections from the Easter section, “Worthy is the Lamb” and the ever popular “Hallelujah Chorus.”
For those who would like to participate, there will be a rehearsal on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the church.
“This is our gift to the community,” commented Taylor. “The performance is free of charge and everyone is invited. It will be an uplifting afternoon, I assure you!”
Don’t miss Handel’s Messiah at Plaza Community Church of the Nazarene, 784 Diederich Blvd. in Russell Dec. 18 at 3:00 p.m. It will be a highlight of your Christmas season.