Cape Fear Chorale to perform Handel’s “Messiah” at Kenan Auditorium

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Cape Fear Chorale is celebrating its 24th year of providing professional high-quality choral music to our region and they group is in full rehearsal mode now for its upcoming performance of Handel’s Messiah.

As the group’s artistic director and conductor, Jerry Cribbs, is no stranger to the local music scene. He has taught music education at a number of New Hanover County Schools including Laney and Hoggard High, and Winter Park Elementary. In addition, he’s been a professor of music at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College.

The Cape Fear Chorale (CFC) traces its roots back to 1998 when there were 42 singers. Since that time, the group has grown to 77 members and they now offer performances free of charge to the community.

“We’ve pretty much done two concerts a year — one in the fall, one in the spring — various styles, genres, and composers, so its just been a great journey for these 24 years, making music with those wonderful singers,” Cribbs said.

On Saturday, April 2, CFC will perform Messiah at UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium. The last time the group performed this selection for the community was in 2017.

George Frederick Handel composed this music in 1741 over a 24-day period and it contains the Hallelujah Chorus, probably the most well-known chorus in the world.

Often performed by community and church groups during the Christmas Advent Season, the music was first performed in Dublin at the New Music Hall on April 13, 1742.

During the upcoming CFC performance, the audience will be encouraged to sing along on the choruses.

“We decided because of folks not singing probably for a couple of years due to the pandemic and having that desire to sing, this would be an appropriate way to share with the community this wonderful oratorio and we all meet together, sing together, and enjoy this great music,” Cribbs said.

The performance is a collaboration with the UNCW Chamber Choir directed by Dr. Aaron Peisner. The Chamber Choir will sing two movements alone and Peisner will conduct several movements during the concert.

Several members of CFC will serve as soloist including Alex Gallo, Bruce Johnson, Tanya Hanano, Kevin Ulisnik, Rachelle Dries, Amanda Allred, and Susan Carron. An orchestra comprised mainly of local instrumentalists will accompany the audience and CFC singers.

“We will have some seats down front near the orchestra near the singers of the chorale for the folks who want to participate with singing,” he said. “We will have scores available to purchase if they want to do that, but then are folks who just want to come and hear the music again, so they will sit just a littler farther back in the auditorium and be strictly audience members to enjoy the sounds of this oratorio.”

Admission to the performance is free.

If you would like to join the CFC, click here for audition details: The next audition date will be Saturday, June 18.

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