Out & About: ‘Messiah’ returning in spirit with other online music events

  • Liz Sauchelli. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/28/2020 9:30:24 PM
Modified: 11/28/2020 9:30:12 PM

Each year, dozens of people gather for the Upper Valley Music Center’s Messiah Sing.

Musicians, vocalists and students take part in the holiday tradition that in years past was held at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon.

“That’s really been one of our biggest events of the year,” said Erin Smith, assistant director at the music center. “After last season’s event, we were talking about finding a bigger venue.”

The COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans, but the Messiah Sing will continue, albeit in a different way. On Dec. 10 from 1:30-2:30 p.m., Mark Nelson will teach an online class about the music theory on the oratorio, and on Dec. 13 from 3-4 p.m., people can practice voice parts in sectional online rehearsals led by voice instructors before singing along to a recorded piece featuring student vocalists.

“We really wanted to focus on having a community way for people to do that because it has been a favorite tradition of ours,” Smith said.

The Messiah activities are part of the Holiday Music Festival, which will take place online from Dec. 4-15. All events are free.

“Rather than try to cram it all in one day, we spread it out,” Smith said. “That way if somebody can’t do the one day we have planned, there are multiple events and multiple ways to participate.”

Other mainstays of the holiday season for the Upper Valley Music Center have been student concerts and caroling.

From 3-4 p.m. Dec. 6, people can visit the music center’s Facebook page, website or YouTube channel to watch students of all ages sing and perform on violin, cello, piano, guitar and flute.

“I really enjoy seeing the younger kids who have worked really hard and are excited to share their accomplishments,” Smith said. “It’s a nice thing.”

Caroling is also a much-loved tradition that will be different this year because people are being discouraged from gathering in person, even outdoors, due to rising COVID-19 rates in the Twin States. During Lebanon’s annual holiday celebration, a group from the music center sings carols at Colburn Park.

“That’s always been my favorite,” Smith said. “I always show up to sing Christmas carols.”

Instead, that too will move online. During two sessions, music center staff will host a Zoom gathering to play musical accompaniment that people can sing along to. Choral Music Director Patricia Norton will teach four holiday-themed sessions called Pocket Songs, which features simple songs that are easy to learn.

“We wanted to give people as many opportunities to get up and sing as they can,” Smith said. “People have been really happy to continue to connect and have that community online.”

Editor’s note: For a full schedule of events, visit uvmusic.org/holidays.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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