Stockton Oratorio Society can Handel “The Messiah” (VIDEO)

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Greg Marino/Stockton College music professor Beverly Vaughan directs the 100 plus member choir with great enthusiasm at practice Monday, Nov. 25 as they work on Handel’s Messiah. Greg Marino/Stockton College music professor Beverly Vaughan directs the 100 plus member choir with great enthusiasm at practice Monday, Nov. 25 as they work on Handel’s Messiah.

 

GALLOWAY—If your holiday spirit needs revived consider it a job for Handel’s Messiah. For the past three months more than 100 singers with the Stockton Oratorio Society, a community choir under the direction of Stockton Music Professor Beverly Vaughan have worked hard to bring some of the most glorious music ever written to the stage.

The performance is Sunday, Dec.8. This will be the 12th time the choir has performed “The Messiah;” they tackle the piece every other holiday season and this year, according to Vaughan, the group is the largest ever.

The voices that make up the choir cover every walk of life and every corner of the region; there are teachers, nurses, students, retired military, businessmen, artists, musicians, choir leaders and members and even reporters have joined the choir. They hail from as far away as King of Prussia to Pleasantville, Atlantic City, Tuckahoe, Northfield, Longport, Ocean City and just about everywhere in between.

Sally and Sarah Russell come from the Weymouth section of Hamilton Township. Sally sang in the choirs in high school and college and is a 25 year veteran of the choir and had she not moved away for several years she would have been 30 years. Her daughter, Sarah began with the choir right out of high school and mother and daughter look forward to weekly practice and the performance coming up next week. “I love the music and I enjoy singing and my daughter is the same way. It is just a very special experience that we share” said Sally Russell.

Karen Aspenberg is a 3-year veteran of the group and brings her 8-year-old granddaughter Myranda with her. Both are sopranos and will be singing on Dec. 8 with great joy. “I have done the Messiah before and I love the music and the choir so I come back,” said Aspenberg who added, “I am a Christian and enjoy singing praise to the Lord.”

Lisa March is a music teacher at the Miller School in Egg Harbor Township and is a 30-year veteran. “I come back every time for the Messiah because I love the complexity of the music and how it comes together; it’s just beautiful and joyful music when it all comes together.”

“It’s a great family thing,” said Marven Hill of Atlantic City a teacher at Atlantic City’s Martin Luther King Jr. Complex who gets together with his father, Marven Hill, and son Kyle, an eighth grader, for rehearsals and the show; “At least one night a week for three months we are together.” The elder Marven Hill is also from AC, a retired teacher and former president of the Atlantic City Board of Education. Hill said, “We look forward to it. It’s therapy for me because the telephone doesn’t ring, I’m with my family and it’s just a good feeling.” Marven Sr. is a 10-year veteran, his son 5 years and grandson 13-year-old Kyle is in his third year.

Beverly Vaughan, the high energy director of the choir welcomes all new members to the choir and veteran members are like good friends returning after a long absence. Vaughan counts on some of those veteran voices to be a steady presence in their section whether they are soprano, alto, tenor or bass. She said she continues to direct the oratorio because of the beautiful complexity of the music, the camaraderie that develops among the group and the joyfulness that comes to the singers performing and to the audience who love to hear it performed live. “There is nothing like hearing The Messiah performed live; it is just a special experience,” said Vaughan. 

The accompanists are all accomplished pianists and the choir is fortunate to sing behind the beautiful music of two grand pianos.
Vaughan has a full orchestra planned for the Dec. 8 performance along with an organ and a string section to compliment Handel’s beautiful piece.

The director explained that it was written in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, the music only and it was Charles Jennens who wrote the lyrics for the piece based on the King James version of the Bible and taken from Psalms and the Common Book of Prayer.

The oratorio is divided into three parts with the famous “Hallelujah Chorus” closing out the second part. “Soprano’s remember you have to be the angels here,” Vaughan reminds them. And after a run through she beams; “Yeah, oh yeah, I hear those angels.”

With one eye on the director and one eye on the music the 100 plus members have spent three months getting the timing, the enunciation and the beat just right to create a moving and magical sound that will recharge that Christmas spirit. 

The group is in the home stretch with dress rehearsal Thursday, Dec. 5 and the performance Sunday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $8-$12 and are available at Stockton’s Performing Arts Center Box Office at (609) 652-9000 or online at the PAC. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the M-Wing of the college at 101 Vera King Farris Dr. in Galloway.
Tickets will also be available at the door of the Xanadu Theater in Trump Taj Mahal on the night of the performance. A portion of the proceeds will benefit scholarships for Stockton students.
Other participants in the program include several churches in Atlantic City, the Hammonton Community Chorus and the Holy Spirit High School Choir.

Greg Marino/The tenor section lift their voices in Handel’s Messiah. Greg Marino/The tenor section lift their voices in Handel’s Messiah.

Greg Marino/The Stockton Oratorio Society is a community choir more than 100 voices strong under the direction of Beverly Vaughan practicing for “The Messiah” to be performed Dec. 8 at the Taj Mahal. The group last performed in 2011. Greg Marino/The Stockton Oratorio Society is a community choir more than 100 voices strong under the direction of Beverly Vaughan practicing for “The Messiah” to be performed Dec. 8 at the Taj Mahal. The group last performed in 2011.

Greg Marino/Every voice brings something special to “The Messiah” as the group runs through the “Hallelujah Chorus” Monday Nov. 25 inside Alton Auditorium at Stockton College.   Greg Marino/Every voice brings something special to “The Messiah” as the group runs through the “Hallelujah Chorus” Monday Nov. 25 inside Alton Auditorium at Stockton College.

 


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