BRADENTON -- A local church this year is planning a performance of parts of composer George Frideric Handel’s brilliant work, “Messiah.”
The First United Methodist Church choir, fortified with 19 additional singers from the community, has been practicing its program since February, said Bernie Hahnke, interim music director at the church.
The performance will also include Sarasota Orchestra members hired for the occasion, he said.
“The work is amazing,” said Hahnke, who is conducting.
The musical tour de force, a classic of western music, was composed in 1741. Handel considered the piece tracing the life of Christ to be divinely-inspired, as do many music lovers, then and now.
“He said, ‘I believe I did see the face of God himself,’” Hahnke said of the composer.
The singers’ score is close to 250 pages long, and the oratorio takes nearly three hours to perform in its entirety, Hahnke said.
The church has pared its program down to a few sections lasting 50 minutes, and can accommodate 500 at its pre-Easter performance slated for 10 a.m. Sunday at the church at 603 11th St. W., Bradenton, Hahnke said.
Attendance is free.
The section called the Hallelujah chorus is a re- frain so famous, practically everybody has heard it somewhere, Hahnke said.
“You don’t even have to be a Christian, it goes beyond all religious and ethnic barriers,” he said.
People love the music so much, they stand when the Hallelujahs begin, he said.
However, treating the congregation to such a production is no easy task.
First, it’s expensive.
Church members held a Valentine’s Day fundraiser that accumulated close to $3,000, and donors also contributed.
Most of the money went toward paying for orchestra members, Hahnke said.
The generosity of church members says something about how they feel about “Messiah,” Hahnke said.
“They stepped up to the plate, big time,” he said.
Information, call (941) 747-4406 or visit www.fumcb.com.
IF YOU GO
What: Pre-holiday performance of “Messiah”
Where: First United Methodist Church, 603 11th St. W., Bradenton
When: 10 a.m. Sunday
Information: Call (941) 747-4406 or visit www.fumcb.com.