The beautiful sound of many voices coming together to take on the classic music of “Handel’s Messiah” can be heard every Sunday from the hallways in Keene Hall at Rollins College. Between the voices, you can hear the conductor, Dr. John Sinclair, correcting notes and diction and perfecting the sound of the Messiah Choral Society.
The Messiah Choral Society is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit, community choral organization that was founded by William Eugene “Bill” Jarvis in 1973. Every year, the group brings the music of “Handel’s Messiah” to the Central Florida area free of charge on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. It is Orlando’s longest running free cultural performance.
Messiah Choral Society Performing joined forces with The Bach Festival Choir to stage a ‘flash mob’ presentation of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah at OIA
When she was in her 20s, Messiah Choral Society President Elaine Pancake attended the group’s production of “Handel’s Messiah” with her grandmother. She immediately fell in love and knew that she wanted to sing with them. The following year, she decided she wanted to be a part of it, and she joined the society. Thirty years later and she has grown to be the person who “steers the ship” as she says. Her transition from a volunteer singer to becoming a section leader, the vice president and now the president makes her passion and dedication to the society clear.
The Messiah Choral Society brings classical works to the community, giving locals a chance to get involved despite their ability to pay. Since it is a free program, it allows all Central Florida residents the opportunity to take part in something special as the holidays approach.
“I find it endearing – their genuine commitment to giving away a concert at Christmastime,” Sinclair, who is the chair of the music department at Rollins College and who has been conducting the Messiah Choral Society for 27 years, says.
Members of the group spend three months rehearsing every Sunday at the Rollins College campus. A lot of hard work and dedication from everyone involved goes into putting on this production.
Since the Messiah Choral Society has been a free organization for 43 years, there are fundraisers throughout the year to pay the soloists, musicians and the conductor. The society sells cans of nuts and works with power2give so that donations can be made directly to Messiah Choral Society online where 50 percent of funds will be matched. The program at each year’s production is always filled with ads, and every advertisement purchase goes toward helping pay the expenses.
Singers are invited and encouraged to join the Messiah Choral Society by registering online for the November 2016 performance.
The 43rd annual performance of Handel’s Messiah will take place Sunday, November 29, 2015 at the Bob Carr Theater.