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Julie Yu To Guest Direct Handel’s “Messiah”

Rehearsals for The Messiah Project, a joint production between the Marshall County Arts Cooperative and the Marshall County Community Choir, will start Sunday, February 9, at 2:00 p.m. in the vocal music room at Marysville High School. Rehearsals lead to a concert of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” on April 12 and 13.

To put together a concert of this masterwork the organizations are working together to pool resources and share the responsibilities of mounting a production of this magnitude.

“We couldn’t do this alone,” said Wayne Kruse, the arts cooperative’s executive director. “Working with the community choir is helping us achieve our goal of giving area singers the chance to perform one of the great choral works. Because of this collaboration we’re able to provide a really unique musical experience for local artists.”

Maybelle Circle, the community choir’s director, agrees. “It’s nice to have another organization to partner with to share the workload,” she said. “We each get to bring our strengths to the table and work together to produce a high quality concert.”

The arts cooperative is serving as the presenting organization for the concert and the community choir is providing the choir. The choir is open to anyone living in the area who wants to sing. “Everyone is welcome,” Circle said. “We need a lot of voices to bring the depth needed for this piece. This will be a really rewarding experience.”

The third partner in the collaboration is Kansas State University’s Department of Choral Studies. K-State faculty members are serving as the soloists for the piece; they are also serving as the musicians for the eleven-piece orchestra.

Julie Yu, co-director of choral studies at Kansas State University, will serve as the guest conductor for the concert. Circle is the rehearsal conductor.

Yu is looking forward to working with the community choir to present Handel’s best-known work.

“‘Messiah’ is such a well known and respected work,” Yu said. “I think many people think it’s an easily accessible work by an average chorus. Many choruses spend their time just trying to get through the notes and melismatic passages, and that by itself means success. It’s fun when you can make the piece dance, if the melismatic passages have shape, and when the piece shows the virtuosity of the voice through clever phrasing choices.”

Yu has extensive experience working with choirs. Currently, she oversees eight choral ensembles and teaches undergraduate and graduate choral conducting. She also serves as a guest clinician at numerous choral workshops. She brings a lot of energy and experience to the choir.

In return, Yu points to the many benefits of being involved in a choir.

“To sing, you have to use your imagination,” she said. “There are no valves, keys or strings to push or pull. To sing in a choir you have to constantly be listening and adapting to the cushion of sound surrounding you. It’s the ultimate exercise in engaging both hemispheres of the brain, fostering creativity, developing muscle memory, collaboration and expressing one’s emotion and passion through an artist’s given palate.”

The choir rehearses on Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Rehearsals are February 9, 16, 23, March 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30. The final rehearsal is April 6.

For more information people may contact Kruse (785) 713-2077 or Circle (785) 562-3668.

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