Hallelujah on orchestra agenda

Published 9:42 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cellist Trish Ward (left), of Washington, and Bryna Coonan, of Bayboro rehearse for Friday night’s concert at First Christian Church. The Beaufort County Community Orchestra will perform with the new chorale group Messiah Chorus in the annual spring concert. (Contributed Photo/Robin Potts)

Hallelujah Chorus.  It’s grandiose. It’s majestic. It’s loud.

But what if that wasn’t the way it was intended to be sung? That’s what Greg Barmer, music director of Washington’s First Baptist Church, contends: that George Frideric Handel wrote the piece to be played more in keeping with chamber music, and that’s just the style in which it will be performed Friday night at the newly renovated First Christian Church in Washington.

According to Robin Potts, orchestra secretary, the Beaufort County Community Orchestra will team up with the Messiah Chorus for their annual spring concert. This year, the orchestra, under the leadership of conductor Chris Ellis, will be dipping into Joseph Haydn’s Symphonie No. 8 and Beethoven’s Romance No. 2 in G Major, in addition to Handel. However, the performance not to miss, according to Potts, is a piece composed for the orchestra by Otto Henry, retired Professor of Music Emeritus at East Carolina University. With an illustrious electronic music and composition career behind him, Henry now plays French horn with the BCCO.

To the all-volunteer orchestra, add Michael Morgan, director of music at First Presbyterian Church, Washington, who will play organ during Friday night’s performance; and Suzuki method violin teachers, Dawn Pooser and Lois Omonde. There’s also music educator and brass player Joe Olivieri, who will guest conduct on as Ellis takes a turn with the violin solo on Romance No.2.

The orchestra numbers about 30 members from various musical backgrounds. Members live as far away as New Bern and Greenville; the youngest orchestra member is 16, the oldest is over 80, but bridging generations and miles is the common ground of a love of music. Since 1999, the BCCO has invited the public to the concerts, and more important, invited anyone with a yen to play, and an instrument to play with, to join the all-volunteer orchestra.

At Christmas and in spring, the orchestra convenes for concerts, though this year is the first that a choir has been added to the schedule. Barmer directs the new endeavor the Beaufort County Messiah Chorus that will sing “Hallelujah Chorus,” “Worthy to the Lamb,” and “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

The concert will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at First Christian Church, 401 E. Second St., Washington.