Apollo Chorus’ “Handel’s Messiah” Review – Rapture!


Founded in 1872 just after the Great Chicago Fire, The Apollo Chorus has probably performed “Handel’s Messiah” more often than nearly all, if not all, community choral groups in the United States. 



To say “they have it down!” is a gross understatement.  “Handel’s Messiah” is music that transports you to another realm and The Apollo Chorus makes sure you get there on a bullet train.


The four soloists that accompanied the chorus certainly did their part and then some. 



When mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges sang “..He was despised and rejected of men…” you really felt these lyrics anew. 



Strong and sweet, soprano Elisabeth Marshall would complete a section leaving you yearning to hear her more. 



Chicago native baritone David Govertsen sang his low notes of oratorio with such fluidity that you felt it come to you as an intimate conversation. 



Tenor Samuel Levine not only was soothingly melodious but very fun to watch as he too looked about at fellow soloists and the choir, as if beaming for us with the joy we all felt at what was unfolding.


The flawlessness of the performance is probably in large part due to the hand of their music director and conductor Stephen Alltop.  When he took bows at the conclusion you could sense his devotion to both the work and the chorus.



It’s a marvel of “Handel’s Messiah” that after the Hallelujah Chorus in part two that the work continues.  It’s such a peak of emotion that as you sit after the “Hallelujahs” your first response is to think its reached its triumphal conclusion.  Later, as the chorus becomes a swirl of “Amens” your feelings for this music rouse even a notch higher.  This is pure music of rapture. 



There are many options in Chicagoland of where to hear “Handel’s Messiah” during each year’s holiday season.  The 120-member all-volunteer Apollo Chorus is my top pick.  This year they performed both in The Harris Theater and in The Auditorium Theater.  Follow The Apollo Chorus website for announcements on next year’s performances and other concerts they have planned for 2015. 




Photos: Courtesy of The Apollo Chorus




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