FARMINGTON — George Frideric Handel's “Messiah” will return to San Juan College for the first time in five years at 7  on p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The college's music department will perform the piece's Christmas section and the “Hallelujah Chorus” in the Henderson Fine Arts Performance Hall for its annual Masterworks concert.
The show was popular in the community five years ago and demand for tickets does not seem to have waned.
“We sold out the house last time and had an overflow room with about 200 people,” said Keith Cochrane, the college's instrumental music program director. “I hear that tickets are going like hotcakes for both nights (this year).”
Planning began about one year ago because the college had to coordinate with church choirs throughout the community, he said.
Linda Edwards, the college's director of vocal music, combined community church choirs with the college's choral groups to create the Masterworks Chorale.
“The point is to give area adults the opportunity to do big, heavy singing on a short time investment and to incorporate college students,” she said.
Both performances will feature soloists Mary Schumaker-Hoerner, Jennifer Miller, Sara Liese, Christine Kidd, Shawn Kidd, Dave Bregar and Greg Allan.
Performing “Messiah,” comes with its unique challenges because Handel wrote the piece for 19 to 25 singers in the Baroque style, Edwards said.
“With smaller groups, they can sound a lot cleaner,” she said. “It's rather difficult and tricky to get a large group to do that.”
Handel's work has been adapted multiple times for use in larger groups.
The college is using a version by English composer Ebenezer Prout, Cochrane said.
For Cochrane, performing “Messiah,” is a uniquely fulfilling experience.
“I love the contrasts in this piece,” he said. “Handel very ingeniously juxtaposed the full resources of the choir and orchestra against the concertino that supports a single soloist. The music reflects the words and supports the intent of the scripture. We've worked to bring out that relationship.”
There will be a brief presentation about 10 minutes before the performances to put “Messiah,” into context for the audience, Cochrane said.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.
For more information, call the San Juan College Box Office at 505-
566-3430.