First Presbyterian Church, on December 7, was the site for the second annual Messiah sing along, sponsored by Amarillo Opera and underwritten by People’s Federal Credit Union and Dr.’s Victoria Thompson and Ray Martin.
The event filled the auditorium, with the chorus, all Messiah junkies from the community, sitting in loosely-defined sections. Together we sang five numbers, variously directed by Jerry Perales, Dr. Steve Weber and Billy Talley.
The orchestra was the keyboard of the incredible Goad organ, played in turn by Rick Land, Norman Goad and Michael Mitchell. News flash: Amarillo now has two world-class calliopes; the Aeolian-Skinner at St. Andrews and the Goad at First Presbyterian.
Mary Jane Johnson, international opera star and leading lady of the Metropolitan, now on the Amarillo College faculty and Artistic Director of Amarillo Opera, gave all a down-home Panhandle welcome, and enjoined all to start warbling.
Three of the eight soloists, all professional vocalists, are noted. Antonio Charles and Sean Milligan, baritone and bass, gave strong performances in Thus Saith the Lord, and For Behold, Darkness Shall Cover the Earth. Their voices, as befits trained opera singers, were strong, confident, and resonant.
Paige Brown’s sparkling soprano sang with clarity in three recitatives, beginning with There Were Shepherds Abiding in the Fields, and effectively followed by the ad hoc chorus singing Glory to God in the Highest. Not bad for a one and done!
The Hallelujah Chorus was a true stand and sing! The combined effect of the bonified as well as aspirant singers was thrilling! For anyone present not feeling the full charge of Christmas spirit, there’s probably a part for Ebeneezer Scrooge that needs your audition.
Congratulations to Mary Jane and Amarillo Opera for an even more successful seasonal Messiah. Gratitude is also extended to the sponsors, soloists, performers and directors who made it possible for singers from the community-at-large to take part.
This is just another reason to say, “Merry Christmas!” and “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!”