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The "Messiah"

Two Glorious Hours

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At 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, pause for a moment and listen. You may hear a choir of angels. For on that evening, angelic voices will be filling the Carpenter Center with the sounds of the greatest oratorio ever written. To experience the splendor of a two-hour performance of Handel's "Messiah" is a blessing from the heavens indeed. The Richmond Symphony will perform Handel's greatest work at the Carpenter Center for one performance only under the direction of Gerardo Edelstein, with four professional soloists from New York accompanying a chorus of 120 members of the Richmond Symphony Chorus.

It will be breathtaking. How could more than 120 voices singing such glorious music not be? "I want to elevate the audience spiritually," says Edelstein, who is conducting this year's performance of "Messiah" for the first time. Edelstein, associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony and a native of Buenos Aires, admits that he loves the music and its transcendent story of the life of Jesus, even though he himself is Jewish. "This is an important time of the year for everybody," he says. "It's a time when we try to be closer to God."

Soprano Beverly Hoch, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, tenor Frank Kelley, and bass-baritone Dean Elzinga will add their voices to the choir of angels Dec. 4. Be there to witness the heavens

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