October 22, 2014

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Annual ‘Messiah’ Sing-Along set for Friday in Oberlin

OBERLIN — For more than half a century, residents from around Lorain County flocked to Oberlin every December to listen to and participate in the Messiah Sing-Along.

Handel’s music wafted through the air, as both young and old sang alongside some of the most talented vocalists to come out of Oberlin College.

The annual tradition became just a memory as the event fell off many years ago. But Credo Chamber Music, founded by Peter Slowik, has brought the tradition back.

For the seventh year, the public is invited to attend Oberlin’s annual Messiah Sing-Along and create some new traditions.

The event takes place at 7 p.m. Friday at Finney Chapel.

The 20-piece orchestra and eight soloists are students of the Oberlin Conservatory and Cleveland Institute. They auditioned and were selected to perform in October, and they have been rehearsing ever since.

“People come to Oberlin from all over to have a musical experience,” said Slowick, who is the head of strings at the Oberlin Conservatory. “This concert is unique. It’s not every concert where you can just start singing with the performers whenever you like.”

Admission is free. A freewill offering will be accepted to benefit Family Promise of Lorain County, which addresses the needs of homeless families by providing shelter, meals, and support services.

“When you think about the Christmas story and Jesus being born in a manger because there was no room for him, benefiting Family Promises is appropriate,” Slowick said. “They help people with housing needs. There are so many worthwhile organizations in Lorain County. This one really goes with the Christmas story.”

The public is invited to bring their own scores or they will be available for rent for $5.

“Everyone recognizes this music,” Slowick assured. “Whether it’s the “Hallelujah Chorus” or “For Unto Us a Child Is Born,” or other choruses, they will know it. And you don’t have to be a professional. Shower-level singers are welcome.”

In the past seven years, the event has grown from 150 attendees to 700, and the Credo Music Chamber hopes it grows even bigger.

“In my four years at Oberlin, Credo’s Messiah Sing-Along has grown from an intimate Oberlin event, to a gorgeous evening of music serving the Greater Cleveland area,” said Michael Patterson, Oberlin Conservatory tenor. “It is truly one of my favorite events every winter and is surely not to be missed.”

The festive mood inside Finney Chapel sets the tone for the holiday season, according to Slowick.

“When people perform music together, it’s a very intimate experience,” he said. “With the way society is today, we have become increasingly isolated, even when it comes to our holiday shopping. We do it from our computers. This is an opportunity to hear the powerful, joyful music of Christmas with perfect strangers in a very intimate and rewarding way. It is a terrific concert experience in a warm and historic building that allows people to listen or perform, and in this case do both.”

There is just one Oberlin performance. A second performance will be 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Severance Hall in Cleveland. Admission is $15 per person.

“There is a feeling when you come to it,” Slowick said, “a feeling of connecting with the season and your neighbors in a very special way.”

Credo will continue its classical chamber music with concerts in July. For more information about upcoming concerts, visit www.credo-music.org.

Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.

‘Messiah’ Sing-Along

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Finney Chapel, 90 N. Professor St., Oberlin
COST: Admission is free. Goodwill offerings to benefit Family Promise of Lorain County will be accepted.