12/15/2018_Conductor Andrew Howell turns towards the audience in an attempt to get them to join in as the Chorus of Westerly performs with the Pops Festival Orchestra, at the George Kent Performance Hall in Westerly, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. (Tim Martin/The Westerly Sun)

WESTERLY — The Chorus of Westerly and Handel Festival Orchestra will perform selections of G. F. Handel’s "Messiah" this weekend, one of the most celebrated choral works and familiar pieces of music.

Conducted by Andrew Howell, the chorus and orchestra will be joined by special guest soloists Sarah Brailey, soprano, Dann Coakwell, tenor, and Mischa Bouvier, baritone, for two performances, one on Saturday and the second on Sunday.

Howell has created an exciting program that will feature, in order, some of the best movements from all three parts of the masterwork, creating a concert approximately 75 minutes in length.  

This will mark the seventh time the Chorus of Westerly has performed part — or all— of "Messiah" since 1959. The Chorus of Westerly actively tries to program "Messiah" once every 10 years. This is not for lack of love or energy for the work, said Chorus Executive Director Ryan Saunders, in a statement, but rather, it helps the chorus present a “fresh” performance with a new interpretation every decade.

It also gives both the community and singing membership a chance to experience the oratorio at its very highest level, he said. Founding director George Kent conducted "Messiah" with the chorus six times in his 53-year tenure. This performance will mark current director Andrew Howell’s first time conducting the masterwork with the chorus.

“We are thrilled to be presenting Messiah this fall,” said Saunders. "This is, by far, one of the most important and best works to be experienced in person. It is just extra special to hear it live with full chorus, orchestra and soloists. We can’t be more excited to offer it to the community just before the business of the holiday season arrives.”

— Nancy Burns-Fusaro

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