The Lakeland Community Choir (founded as the Warsaw Community Choir) is celebrating its 30th anniversary soon. And to commemorate three decades of choral singing in the Warsaw area, the Lakeland Community Choir and Chamber Orchestra will perform a production of Handel’s “Messiah.”
According to Judie Meulink, president of the Classic Arts Program, Rev. Richard Anderson formed the Warsaw Community Choir in 1984. Anderson, along with his wife, Ethel, successfully put on local performances of “Messiah” and other collaborations with the Grace Community Orchestra.
In 1991, Anderson founded the Classic Arts Programs. The CAP would become an umbrella organization for several area choral groups, many of which persist to this day. The adult choir is still performing as the Lakeland Community Choir.
The children’s choral program was added in 2001. It spawned the Piccolo Singers for grades 3-5, Vivace for grades 5-8 and Inner Voices for grades 8-10. Furthermore, plans are in to works to revive the Preparatory Program for young singers.
“The board of directors of Classic Arts Programs is excited to be continuing Richard Anderson’s vision of high-quality community music making,” writes Meulink. “We are thrilled to continue collaborations with our community instrumental groups. We would like to dedicate our March 2015 performance of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ to Dick Anderson.”
“Messiah” has become a holiday standard in recent years, but, according to a 2009 “Smithsonian” article, the Baroque oratorio was originally an Easter production. The oratorio debuted at the Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. Throngs of people swarmed the hall to catch a performance, prompting management to ask women to wear dresses without hoops to make room for all the patrons. It has since become one of the most performed choral works in the history of Western music.
The piece is comprised of three parts. The first based on the prophecies preceding Christ’s birth, the second focuses on the Passion – ending with the instantly-recognizable “Hallelujah” chorus – and the third covers the resurrection and glorification of Christ. The third movement really solidifies its status as an Easter production.
The Lakeland Community Choir and Chamber Orchestra, with soloists Tammie Huntington, Lisa Dawson, Keith Brautigam and Conor Angell, will perform “Messiah” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21 at First United Methodist Church, 179 South Indiana St., Warsaw. Admission is free.
“We hope that we honor his memory and efforts with our performances,” Meulink writes. “Here’s to many more years of quality choral singing and community music making in the Warsaw area.”