Laura Thoreson is one of the soloists with the San Juan Symphony who will perform during this weekend’s performance of "Messiah."
Laura Thoreson is one of the soloists with the San Juan Symphony who will perform during this weekend's performance of "Messiah." (Courtesy of San Juan Symphony)

BLOOMFIELD — This year, two Four Corners groups will perform one of the most famous Christmas musical productions.

San Juan Symphony will perform arias and choruses of George Frideric Handel's "Messiah" on Saturday at the Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College and on Sunday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. A community chorus put together by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Bloomfield Stake will also perform "Messiah" on Dec. 15.

The symphony's performance will feature two choirs, the Durango Choral Society and Vicus Voices. Soprano Gemma Kavanagh and mezzo Laura Thoreson will have solos during the concert.

In early 1741, Handel composed "Messiah," which is an English-language oratorio. Oratorios are large musical compositions including a choir, soloists and various arias and characters, similar to an opera. The difference between an oratorio and an opera is the oratorio is strictly a concert, and there is little interaction between the characters.

"Messiah" was first performed on April 13, 1742, in Dublin, Ireland, but has since become a well-known part of musical culture. Some of the numbers, such as the Hallelujah chorus, have become instantly recognizable and are used in movies and commercials.

While not strictly a Christmas piece, it is often performed around Christmas or Easter due to its religious themes.

Leroy Dugger, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Bloomfield Stake president, said the concert is an opportunity to "share our belief in and our love of our savior Jesus Christ."

He said it is also an opportunity to celebrate with the community.

The church has reached out to the communities within the stake, which encompasses Bloomfield, Aztec and Flora Vista. It invited the community members to join the choir, regardless of religion.

Gemma Kavanagh is one of the soloists with the San Juan Symphony who will perform during this weekend’s performance of "Messiah."
Gemma Kavanagh is one of the soloists with the San Juan Symphony who will perform during this weekend's performance of "Messiah." (Courtesy of San Juan Symphony)

Margaret McDaniel, the public affairs director for the Bloomfield LDS stake, said the event is an opportunity to bring all faiths together.

"We are united in one purpose," McDaniel said.

She said that purpose is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Sarah Pope, a member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Farmington, will sing in the Bloomfield choir. She said "Messiah" is both the Easter and Christmas story.

"It just has always touched me," she said.

Canaan Myers, who attends First United Methodist Church in Farmington, is also singing in the Bloomfield choir. He was in San Juan College's choir last year when the choir presented "Messiah," and he said he enjoyed the oratorio.

"It's a great message hidden in the music," Myers said.

Cristine Kidd will be directing the choir. Kidd has taught voice lessons at San Juan College and worked with the college's Masterworks programs for years. Last year, she was a featured soloist in the Masterworks production of "Messiah."

"It's all about Jesus Christ and his purpose," Kidd said. "We'll be celebrating that in music."

IF YOU GO

What: San Juan Symphony's “Messiah”

When and where: 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College and 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo.

Tickets: $20 Satuday. $34 Sunday Call 505-566-3430 or visit www.durangoconcerts.com

More info: www.sanjuansymphony.org



What: Bloomfield Community Production of “Messiah”

When and where: 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 at Bloomfield High School

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.