What do you get when you bring together singers of various abilities to perform beloved and highly technical sacred music without rehearsal?
Hastings Symphony Orchestra conductor Byron Jensen isn’t sure, to be honest. But regardless of how the first “Messiah” Sing-Along hosted by Hastings Symphony Orchestra sounds, Jensen is sure it will be a joyful noise to all present, both performers and audience members alike.
“There’s a pretty strong tradition of singing ‘Messiah’ around here, and I figured it would be a good time to try it here,” Jensen said of the performance, which is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday at Hastings Masonic Center Auditorium, 411 N. Hastings Ave. The production is open to anyone possessing a vocal score of the oratorio and a heart for Handel’s most beloved work.
Jensen said he hopes singers who have always wanted to tackle the Christmas-themed portions of “Messiah” but were either too busy or shy to participate in the college’s regularly visited production will see the performance as an opportunity to finally be heard.
“I expect there are lots of singers out there who have always wanted to sing the arias but never had the chance,” he said. “Now’s the chance. Most people who are familiar with this music have performed it several times in the past, so it’s pretty familiar to scores and scores of people.
“There is no pretense in making this a polished performance. At 2 p.m, we’ll begin the downbeat for the Overture and we’re going to start singing. What this music does is bring us closer as a community. It makes us understand there is somebody/something out there much larger than we are, and it’s a lovely idea to think there’s a guiding spirit and music we can sing that helps bring this all to life for us.”
There is no charge for the event, but participants and attendees are asked to make a free-will donation to help defray costs associated with the production, Jensen said.
While he has sung and conducted many a performance of “Messiah,” Jansen said he has never tackled a project quite like this one. Just how it may turn out is anyone’s guess, he said. That said, he is hoping the event is well received and becomes part of HSO’s annual tradition going forward.
“It’s a little scary going into it without any kind of rehearsals,” he said. “I expect there’s probably going to be a few laughs here and there and who knows? There could be a total breakdown. If that’s the case, we’ll stop and pick it up where we left off and keep going.
“I think it’s going to be exhilarating. For the singers, it’s going to be exhilarating to be delving into this great masterwork and lifting their voices to something that means a lot to so many of us.”