Days before Christmas, the singers of Christ Church Cathedral will tackle one of music’s best-known and most challenging compositions. With a full orchestra providing the music, they’ll hit soaring crescendos and lilting choruses. Majestically rising voices will come together to celebrate the life of Jesus Christ.
Joining those voices will be Center Grove students Katherine and Juliana Hulsey.
The Hulseys will perform Handel’s “Messiah” with the cathedral’s choir in a behemoth of a holiday concert. The intricate and intense performance stretches for nearly three hours, following the life of Christ from his birth to his death to his eventual return as savior.
With all of the cathedral’s choirs joining together, it represents the most massive and complex show the sisters have ever done.
“I’ve never sung a concert of this size before. I’m excited, and a little intimidated. But it will be a good experience,” Katherine Hulsey said.
Katherine Hulsey, 17, is a senior at Center Grove High School. She plays the clarinet in the school’s wind ensemble and had participated in jazz and pep bands as well.
If you go
What: Handel’s “Messiah”
When: 3:30 p.m. Dec. 16
Where: Christ Church Cathedral, 125 Monument Circle, Indianapolis
What: An intimate, historically informed version of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah.” The Christ Church Cathedral will be joined by the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra and will be the the only performance of Handel’s masterwork featuring children’s voices, men’s voices and period instruments outside of New York City.
Cost: $10 for general admission, $20 for priority seating
Her sister, Juliana Hulsey, 14, is a freshman at Center Grove. A French horn player in the school’s symphonic band, she has joined her sister in the Center Grove marching band as well.
The Hulsey girls joined the choir at Christ Church Cathedral on the Circle in downtown Indianapolis when they turned 8. The church encourages every member, even children, to participate in worship. Music seemed like the best bet for Katherine and Juliana.
“I always felt myself getting lost in music in general,” Julianna Hulsey said. “This was a cool way to do that.”
The cathedral has a long history of vocal artistry in central Indiana. The men’s and boys’ choir was formed in the late 1800s, and the girls choir followed in 1945.
Members of the choirs do not have to be church members. Leaders are searching for the best vocalists in the area, director Dana Marsh said. Many come from as far away as Bloomington to sing and receive professional development from the church’s sacred music staff.
“As far as our religion goes, I’ve found that it is a really spiritual way to worship,” Katherine Hulsey said.
Through the Hulseys’
experience with the cathedral, they have performed in dozens of concerts and Sunday mornings. The choir has allowed them to sing in London’s famed Westminster Abbey, as well as the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
This will be the first time the choir has performed “Messiah” in its entirety. The choir has performed parts of it in the past but had never combined it to include all three major parts before, Marsh said.
Rehearsals have occurred every Tuesday and Wednesday, as they’ve mastered each part and movements of the concert. Right before the Dec. 16 concert, they’ll have a practice with the full orchestra.
Both girls like the redemptive and powerful third part, which covers the return of Christ as Messiah.
“It’s not the easiest music in the world to learn, but once we learn it, it will get easier,” Juliana Hulsey said. “It’ll be more intense once we get closer.”