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Hallelujah! ‘Messiah’ returns to Marine Park

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Their sound is gone out across the land!

A Marine Park church will once again ring with a joyful noise on Dec. 13, when a full orchestra and chorus join together to perform Handel’s “Messiah.” The Good Shepherd Church has presented the Christmas classic each winter for the last 19 years, making the concert a beloved neighborhood tradition.

“It’s just a magnificent way of beginning the Christmas season,” said Michael Fontana, the music director of the church since 1991.

Fontana was inspired to launch the annual show by the strength of the church’s chorus.

“After the first year of concerts I thought we have a magnificent church choir here,” said Fontana, “and as a means of pushing them musically, I approached them about performing ‘Messiah.’ ”

A 22-piece orchestra will back the church’s choir and solo performers during the 90-minute show. The concert covers the first portion of George Frideric Handel’s three-part composition — the part that deals with the Nativity of Jesus — as well as the famous “Hallelujah” chorus at the end.

There are many performances of the cherished classic each winter, but Good Shepherd Church is one of the few in the borough to enlist a full orchestra. Fontana reached out to his friends, who are also professional musicians, to fill out the orchestra.

Each winter people gather from around the city and beyond to catch the performance, which is free but asks for donations so that the church can pay its performers. Fontana said that 650 people flocked to the show last year, with one visitor making a pilgrimage all the way from Pennsylvania.

And Fontana cannot wait to welcome folks back to the church this winter.

“They love to come to Good Shepherd,” he said. “It’s just glorious.”

“Messiah” at Good Shepherd Church [1950 Batchelder St. at Avenue S in Marine Park, (718) 998–2800, www.goodshepherdrcc.org]. Dec. 13 at 6 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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