I thought it was a joke at first, said Blegen of Union, director of Annas Bay Chorale. The email said that our YouTube clips of last years Messiah had been seen online and would we like to come and anchor a performance at Lincoln Center.
As it turned out, Annas Bay Chorale was on its way to Lincoln Center and Radio City Music Hall, where the group performed last month along with other amateur choirs from around the world.
However, Annas Bay Chorale wasnt just another part of the group; the chorale was the anchor of the performance, which included more than 200 singers and a large orchestra.
Normally, the choirs that come only sing one half, Blegen said. Because of our experience with the piece and because we were so many singers, we were invited to sing the whole piece.
The concert was produced by Distinguished Concerts International New York, which stages choral extravaganzas, including an annual Messiah. Theyve never had a choir with this many singers, Blegen added.
On Saturday, the chorale will make another debut its first Thurston County performance. A group of about 70 singers will present Handels Messiah, accompanied by the South Shore Chamber Orchestra, Annas Bays professional chamber orchestra. Founded in 2005 on the south shore of Hood Canal, the Annas Bay Center for Music is a nonprofit charitable organization with a mission of building community in rural Mason County through music. While the chorale might have humble roots, its performance got a solid review in The New York Times. Critic Steve Smith wrote, The chorus, as you might expect from an ad hoc aggregation, was uneven at times but handled some of the works most involved passages confidently and produced a ravishing sound at climaxes.
And the producers loved Annas Bay Chorale, Blegen said. The group was told it is welcome to return, and Blegen, whos studying for a doctoral degree in conducting at the University of Washington, was asked to be part of the organizations conducting mentorship program.
The New York City Messiah was different from the one the chorale will sing Saturday night in Olympia although the vocal parts are the same, so the groups experience on tour will still serve them well. It was a newer orchestration written in 1959 by Eugene Goosens, making use of the larger and more diverse sound of a modern orchestra.
While in New York City, the chorus also performed at Radio City Music Hall, opening for the Rockettes. That appearance was by the Annas Bay group alone.
This was the 7-year-old chorales first tour. A proud Blegen is certain it wont be the last.
It took to a new level the pride the singers have in what they do, he said. The ages of the singers there were from 15-84. At every age, they were professional and responsive to what the conductor wanted. They were there to grab everything they could from the experience.