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'Messiah' to launch holiday season

Pacific Chamber Orchestra is launching the holiday season Thanksgiving weekend with Handel's "Messiah" with performances at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pleasanton and the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.
Messiah Soloists Photo only_ONLINE
Pacific Chamber Orchestra's performances of Handel's "Messiah" will feature (from left) soprano Hope Briggs, mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich, tenor Jonathan Smucker and bass Kirk Eichelberger.

Pacific Chamber Orchestra is launching the holiday season Thanksgiving weekend with Handel's "Messiah" with performances at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pleasanton and the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.

"In a PCO tradition, the audience will be invited to join in and lift their voices in a sing-along reprise of the beloved 'Hallelujah' chorus," conductor Lawrence Kohl said.

The concert production will feature soprano Hope Briggs, mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich, tenor Jonathan Smucker and bass Kirk Eichelberger with chorus master Dwight Stone.

Briggs was featured on PBS in the documentary film, "Voices for Freedom, the Hyers Sisters' Legacy," and is acclaimed for her "lusciously intoned" voice. Scharich has sung more than 35 opera roles from Monteverdi to Philip Glass, and is known for her "exuberant vitality" and "deep-rooted pathos."

Tucker, a member of the voice faculty at San Jose State University, is known for his roles with operas in the area. And Eichelberger, praised for his "resonant bass and riveting stage presence," has performed throughout North America.

Pacific Chamber Orchestra chorus is made up of members from different choral groups throughout the region.

"This combination of talents creates a magical experience," said chorister Donna Edwards, who has performed in choruses around the world.

Raquel Holt, a board member of Livermore Valley Opera, who has sung the "Messiah" with Pacific Chamber Orchestra at least six times, noted, "Singing with members of other choral groups creates an instant 'village' because of common interest and purpose."

The musicians of the Pacific Chamber Orchestra perform in Bay Area symphonies and orchestras as well as being recording artists, touring internationally in chamber music groups and as concerto soloists.

Handel's "Messiah" was originally presented as an Easter offering in 1742, but since then the first part has become a Christmas holiday tradition around the world.

"However, there is a full story to tell," Kohl explained, "so I have added some gorgeous numbers from the second and third parts such as 'Their Sound Is Gone Out,' which we do as a quartet of the soloists, as otherwise they do not sing together."

Solo arias will include the baritone "Why do Nations Rage So Furiously Together?" and "The Trumpet Shall Sound," as well as the soprano "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth." Choruses are "Worthy Is the Lamb" and the climatic "Amen."

"Messiah" performances are at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1225 Hopyard Road in Pleasanton; and at 3 p.m. Nov. 28, at the Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St. in Livermore. Purchase tickets at pacificchamberorchestra.org. Tickets for the Livermore performance may also be purchased by calling 373-6800 or at the box office.