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Handel’s Messiah75th Diamond Jubilee Performance

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Handel’s Messiah75th Diamond Jubilee Performance

By Todd Haynie

Handel’s Messiah

75th Diamond Jubilee Performance

Sunday, December 11, 2011

7:30 p.m.

Eastern Arizona College Fine Arts Auditorium

Reserved seating tickets are required - No admission charge

On Sunday, December 18, 1936, eighty-two singers presented Handel’s Messiahin the old Thatcher LDS Church located on the corner of Church Street and College Avenue. This was a bold undertaking for musicians in rural Arizona, but the love of music has been a part of the culture of the Gila Valley from the time settlers first arrived. That bold undertaking has continued and flourished to become one of the longest running traditions of Messiahperformances west of the Mississippi River.

This year marks the 75th annual performance of this beloved master work in the Gila Valley. Area singers and the EAC Symphony Orchestra combine under the baton of Dr. Bruce W. Bishop to continue this holiday tradition. EAC A Cappella Choir, Men’s Chorus, and vocalists from the Gila Valley have rehearsed throughout November to prepare the challenging choruses. Soloists from the College and the community will sing the recitatives and arias that present the drama of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Choir alumni are especially invited to the performance and encouraged to bring music to the “Hallelujah” chorus. Dr. David Lunt will take the podium as that movement is performed, and direct all those who know the “Hallelujah” chorus in the audience as they join the orchestra and stage choir.

Eunice Whetten, long-time Thatcher resident, was in attendance at the first performance.

“I sat on the benches along the side of the chapel because I could hear better there," she said. "I remember attending Messiahfor several years before I was old enough to sing. It was really exciting to me.” She was invited to join the Messiah choir during her junior year in high school. “I was so excited to think that I could sing Messiah. I loved it from the first time that I heard it.” Mrs. Whetten has sung continuously in the Gila Valley performance of Messiahsince 1939, “except for three years when we lived in New Mexico and one other year right after I had a baby. I sang as many times as I could.” Eunice Whetten will once again take her place on stage in the alto section on Sunday, December 11, for the 75th performance of Messiah.

The community is invited to make Messiahpart of their Christmas tradition. Messiahis performed as a gift to the Gila Valley without charge. Due to the expected large audience, tickets are required. Contact the EAC Ticket Office today at 428-8228 to reserve your free tickets.