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‘Messiah’ A Fitting Piece For Easter, And For Women’s Shelter Benefit

What a wonderful piece. And what a wonderful cause. The Messiah Project 1995 is mounting a performance of, what else? George Friederick Handel’s “Messiah.” Their intent is to raise as much money as possible for Ogden Hall.

“Messiah” was written in 1741 as a charity piece, and was performed as such for many years in London. The piece also has quite a history in Spokane, having been presented annually for years in most of the larger local venues. The leader for those presentations of yesteryear was Dr. Milton Johnson, who now conducts the annual Christmastime “Messiah” sing-along at First Presbyterian Church.

After a more than 10-year hiatus, a new group thinks it is time to revive this Spokane tradition. Sharon Daggett, who is heading up the Messiah Project, believes the interest is out there and the need is great. This Sunday they are hoping to fill the 1,200-seat Masonic Temple, but they are setting their sights even higher for future years in the Opera House or new Spokane Arena.

Anna Ogden Hall is to be the recipient of this current wave of good will. Ogden Hall is a ministry which helps battered women and children. The need for this kind of service is so great that they are forced to turn away, on average, one woman and two children each day. The Messiah Project hopes to raise $10,000 for them on Sunday.

Handel’s most famous work is heard so often at Christmas these days that we forget the piece has more to do with Easter. The Messiah Project performance will skip Part I, which relates to the birth of Christ, but will perform nearly all of Part II, dealing with death and resurrection, and Part III, concerning the significance of the aforementioned events to mankind.

The 100-voice chorus has been rehearsing since last fall. The choristers, drawn from churches, colleges and universities, and the community have joined together this week to rehearse with musicians from the Washington-Idaho Symphony Orchestra. L. Keating Johnson, conductor of the Washing Idaho Symphony and Director of Bands at WSU, will lead the chorus and orchestra for this performance.

The vocal soloists will be Sharon Daggett, soprano; Angela Dowling, contralto; John Duenow, tenor; and Donald Bell, baritone. Daggett and Duenow are names which may be familiar to local audiences, both having appeared in a variety of operatic roles and solo situations.

Dowling and Bell are both from Calgary. Dowling has performed in Western Canada with orchestras and in many operatic and Broadway roles. Bell has an extensive resume: highlights include the world premiere performance of Britten’s “War Requiem,” recording with Georg Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra and opening New York’s Lincoln Center with Leonard Bernstein.

xxxx The Messiah Project’s Handel’s “Messiah” Location and time: Masonic Temple, Sunday, 4 p.m. Tickets: $10, $8 for seniors/student ($12/$10 at the door), available at Cafe Roma, 2nd Look Books, Street Music, Custom Cassette Duplicators, Christian Gift Center, Sower Bible Bookstore, Ortner’s Flowers and Gifts, Special Touch Florist and Malecki Music

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