At its highest point, George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” is an auditory force of a performance.
Cascading brass and string instruments meet with crashing percussion to form a grand background to the cacophony of choir singers.
The power, force and beauty of “Messiah” has become a holiday tradition for the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. The group will showcase the performance in its entirety at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, 418 E. 34th St., Indianapolis.
Greenwood resident Matt Kauffman has helped organize the concert from Tabernacle Presbyterian Church’s side. He shares his thoughts on what has become one of the church’s signature events.
How did Tabernacle Presbyterian Church get involved with this performance?
The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra approached us four years ago, asked if we’d be willing to host the event. We said yes, and it’s stayed here and grown.
Why did the church agree to take part?
They came here needing a place, and we provided that. As part of that, they asked if our choir would want to be involved. We learned all of the portions of Messiah that no one knows, that people don’t usually sing. And we’ve been doing it ever since then.
What makes this such a good fit for the church?
The sanctuary is magnificent. Acoustically, it’s perfect, and by the time they get it decorated for Christmas, it’s a fantastic venue.
This year’s performance includes two choirs — our sanctuary choir and Encore Vocal Arts, a semi-professional choir here in Indianapolis.
How has the church been preparing and getting ready?
We started in August, try to hit one or two choruses every rehearsal evening. This year it’s been more of a brush-up than anything. After three years, you know what’s coming. The first three years were more intense, since there were so many choruses that aren’t usually done.
Has this become something the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church
It has become that. We provide all of the volunteers for ushering and greeting. We have a little refreshment stand that we staff during intermission where we provide cookies and hot cider. I put the call-out every fall and never have any trouble getting volunteers. And we have a very dedicated group of choir members that support “Messiah” performances wholeheartedly.
Having done this so many years, which selections of “Messiah” are your favorite?
Naturally, all of the Christmas stuff stands out. The final “Worthy is the Lamb” and the “Amen” chorus at the end are special.
After you do them for so many times, you learn to love them all, and it’s hard to pick your favorites. There are some that are more difficult than others. It’s such a magnificent work in total, it’s really hard to pick and choose.
Why did you decide to add a food drive aspect to the performance?
Everybody thinks of Christmas as a time of giving, this was one way that everyone could bring something to benefit those who are in need. Tabernacle Presbyterian Church is very well-connected to the Mid North Food Pantry.
That’s one of our projects that we support. The canned food that comes in during the performances will all go to that food pantry.
— Ryan Trares