November 15, 2019

SIU set to kick off holiday season on Thursday with Handel’s 'Messiah'

by Jason Franchuck

CARBONDALE, Ill. — ’Tis the season for holiday concerts. And the combined forces of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Choral Union and the SIU Concert Choir will present George Frideric Handel’s famous “Messiah” on Thursday, Nov. 21 at Shryock Auditorium.

There will also be a presentation of choruses from other stellar composers during the Baroque era.

The show will start at 7:30 p.m.

“I’m calling the concert ‘A Baroque Holiday’ because we start with some Thanksgiving choruses by Georg Philipp Telemann, some Advent pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, and finish with a large portion of ‘Messiah’,” said Susan Davenport, SIU’s director of choral activities. “It was actually premiered during the Easter season in 1741, but has become much more of a Christmas standard in more recent times.”

Diverse team

The SIU Choral Union is comprised of students and community members. Some of the off-campus participants have sung in the group for 50 years.

“They are a dedicated group,” Davenport said.

They are joined by the SIU Concert Choir, the select choral ensemble on campus. Accompanying the singers will be a Chamber Orchestra made up of players from the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra.

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the Coverdale Psalter, the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer.

The chorus accompaniment is known around the world for great emotional impact and uplifting messages.

“I think the audience will enjoy the familiar solos, sung by selected outstanding SIU students, and choruses of the ‘Messiah’, but will be pleasantly surprised by the exciting music of the other two composers,” Davenport said. “I planned it this way to offer to the audience both the familiar and the new. I hope that they will be delighted with both aspects of the performance.”

Tickets available

Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra (SISO) season ticket holders are covered already for tickets. Tickets for non-season ticket holders are $20 for the general public and $8 for students. Tickets can purchased at the door or online at