Members of the Solano Chamber Society rehearse Handel's Messiah, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Vacaville on Sunday. (Adam Smith/Daily Republic)


‘Messiah’ performance involves a cast of many

By From page B1 | November 23, 2012

VACAVILLE — While George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” was originally an Easter offering, it’s now a Christmas staple around the world.

It’s also been a part of Solano Chamber Society conductor Jay Trottier’s life for many years. His mother was in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which performed the oratio. For the past 28 years, Trottier has brought the piece to local audiences.

“I love the work. I can’t get enough of it,” Trottier said. “You can’t beat some of this music. It’s glorious to stand in front of an excellent orchestra and chorus to say ‘Glory to God.’ ”

Piano teacher Melissa Kibler serves as the rehearsal accompanist for the chorus, which also includes two of her daughters, ages 10 and 12. Her favorite part of the “Messiah” is “Comfort Ye, My People.”

“It’s a very touching piece to me,” she said.

Trottier has a core group of performers who return each year. The size of the chorus ranges from 60 to 80 people, with 20 to 30 of them new to the production.

There are about 45 members of the orchestra, including violinist Grace Wheeler.

“It’s a great piece of music,” she said. And it’s challenging, “bringing all the music together.”

Wheeler began playing the violin 20 years ago, when she was 6.

At Sunday’s choral rehearsal, her husband of almost three years, Josh Wheeler, auditioned for a solo. This will mark the fourth year he’s been in the chorus, the third year doing a solo.

“This is probably one of the best pieces of music written,” he said.

It is believed Handel wrote the piece in about 18 days. He was so absorbed in the work, he barely left one room of his home.

Performing the “Messiah” takes about two hours.

Vacaville resident Steve Ohlin joined the chorus about 10 years ago. When he moved to the area in 2001, there were no tenor solos in the piece. He promised that wouldn’t happen again and approached Trottier.

“The piece is so beautiful. It has sacred and gospel music,” he said.

At 83, Fairfield resident Dorris Lorrin is believed to be the oldest chorus member. She’s been with the chorus eight years.

“I love the ‘Messiah,’ ” she said. “It gets you in the spirit so quickly.”

Like most of her fellow “Messiah” performers, Lorrin has a favorite part.

“The ‘Hallelujah’ chorus raises your spirits so high,” she said.

The “Messiah” started with the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There were performances in Vacaville and Fairfield for several years. This year, there will be one show in Vacaville and two in Oakland.

And the show has grown to include the whole community. A variety of faiths are represented.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Handel’s “Messiah”

  • Solano Chamber Society
  • 7 p.m. Dec. 2
  • Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre, 1010 Ulatis Drive
  • 469-4013
  • www.vpat.net
Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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