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The 25 soloists for this year’s pro­duction of Handel’s “Messiah” have been announced, and, for the first time since the piece was per­formed at Hillsdale College, no faculty will sing a solo.

“In 2008 we had stronger vocalists and incor­po­rated them in with the faculty,” Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Music James Holleman said. “It was very suc­cessful and we had a pos­itive reaction. The program was developed for student expe­rience. If they have the ability, we’ll lean toward that.”

The “Messiah” is per­formed by the Hillsdale College choir once every four years, but Holleman said the piece has developed sig­nif­i­cantly throughout the three per­for­mances since he started work at Hillsdale in 1997.

“[As we have been] building the music program, we’ve seen a sig­nif­icant increase in numbers,” he said.

Each student learned their audition piece during private voice lessons. Junior Aaron Sandford will be per­forming the solos “Behold, I Tell” and “The Trumpet Shall Sound.”

“I’ve been working on this solo since last semester,” he said. “I worked on it a bit over the summer and started again in lessons this semester. I’m for­tunate that it’s in my junior year. I would not be able to do it oth­erwise.”

Some stu­dents have one per­for­mance, others have all three. Becky Schoon, a fifth year senior, is singing “Rejoice” in all three per­for­mances and “I Know My Redeemer Liveth.”

“I’m so excited to perform in front of everyone,” she said. “The words are straight from the Bible.”

Many stu­dents expressed their love for the “Messiah” because it has bib­lical origins and scripture all throughout. Some have expe­rience with the “Messiah,” while others have only heard the Hal­lelujah chorus, though all find it tri­umphant and incredible to sing together.

“I love how it goes through the sal­vation story,” junior Mary Proffit Kimmel, who sings the “Angel recita­tives,” said.

Junior Tom Ohlgren, a soloist singing “Thus Saith the Lord” and “But Who May Abide The Day of His Coming,” has never heard the full per­for­mance of the “Messiah” before, but his high-school choir would perform the Hal­lelujah chorus every Christmas, and he has come to appre­ciate the beauty of it.

“The content and what it talks about is just very beau­tiful,” he said.

Junior David Krueger said he, too, had never heard the entire “Messiah” before, but he said he loves having the bib­lical pas­sages set to beau­tiful music.

“It’s a lot of fun to share music,” he said. “There is some­thing uniquely good about music in general. It can enhance and make people’s lives better.”

Stu­dents said prac­ticing for the per­for­mance has been dif­ficult. but ulti­mately they are excited to see the progress and perform the famous piece.

“One of the great things I love is coming together and making the piece work,” freshman soloist Allyn Mor­rison said. “It’s so complex and grand. You live and breathe it and then ‘bam’ it just works. You hear the altos, sopranos, tenors, and basses, and you know you’ve made some­thing magical.”                         

 

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Amanda Tindall
Amanda Tindall is the features editor of the Collegian. From northeastern Nebraska, she hopes to move back to the east coast after graduation in 2016. She has worked at the Washington Post Express and the Toledo Free Press, and her favorite form of writing is long-form features and magazine pieces. Email: atindall@hillsdale.edu