Cathedral to host ‘Sing It Yourself Messiah on Dec. 9
At more than 270 years of age, George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” remains evergreen and quite popular — especially in the Peoria area, where people have gathered to sing it on the second Sunday of December for 36 years.
That will happen again this year, with the “Sing It Yourself Messiah” scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 9, at 2:30 p.m. What is new is the location: St. Mary’s Cathedral, 607 N.E. Madison Ave.
Dr. Sherry Seckler, cathedral organist and director of sacred music for the Diocese of Peoria, said St. Mary’s Cathedral was chosen as the new host site when St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral was unable to continue the 36-year tradition.
As the harpsichordist for “Messiah” for many years, Seckler knew Dr. John Jost, professor of music at Bradley University and conductor of the 20-piece orchestra that plays for the annual program. She had told him that Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, loved Handel’s masterpiece and “would take it in a heartbeat” if a new home was ever needed.
She expressed gratitude to St. Paul’s Cathedral for its hospitality over the years and said, “We’re going to try hard to carry on.”
Featured soloists for this year’s program include Kerry Walters, soprano, who is associate professor of voice at Bradley University, where she also teaches music education and directs the Opera Workshop and Women’s Choir, and Denise Gamez, mezzo-soprano, who has performed nationally and is currently guest lecturer in voice at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music.
Male soloists are Jeffrey Brich, tenor, who has frequently performed Handel’s “Messiah,” Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and Mozart’s “Requiem” and is a voice instructor at the University of Northern Iowa, and John Hines, bass, who has sung major roles in operas around the United States and has been a member of the music faculty at the University of Northern Iowa since 2006.
Singers of all vocal abilities are welcome to be part of the chorus, according to Seckler. They may bring their own scores or purchase them at cost when they arrive at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
“If they don’t want to sing they can just listen,” she told The Catholic Post. “We do almost the whole thing. Very little is left out.”
Seckler encouraged people to come and sing without fear.
“Even if you don’t do it perfectly it’s fun. It’s forgivable,” she said with a laugh. “If you miss a cue nobody’s going to point fingers.”
She added that there’s a joy that comes from singing in a large group and people don’t often get to experience that.
“And you have an orchestra to accompany you,” Seckler said. “How many times does an ordinary lay man get to be accompanied by an orchestra?”
There is no charge to attend “Messiah,” but a free-will offering will be accepted during a brief intermission.
For more information or to make a contribution toward the cost of hosting the concert, call the diocese’s Office of Divine Worship at (309) 671-1550.