Walla Walla Symphony, Mastersingers team up

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerNovember 30, 2012 

For Justin Raffa, it wouldn't be Christmas without a performance of Messiah.

When the Walla Walla Symphony, under the direction of maestro Yaacov Bergman, asked Raffa last fall if his Mid-Columbia Mastersingers would be part of a joint Messiah concert this year in Walla Walla as well as the Tri-Cities, he was more than happy to oblige.

"I agreed to the Mastersingers going to Walla Walla, but turned down their request to host a performance here in Tri-Cities because I didn't want to compete with the annual Messiah performance at Central United Protestant Church in Richland," Raffa said.

But CUP Church announced late last year that it would not be presenting its annual Messiah concert any longer, so Raffa contacted the Walla Walla Symphony folks and agreed to do the Tri-City performance as well.

"This will be the only chance to see Handel's Messiah this season in the Tri-Cities," he added.

That joint concert will happen Dec. 1 at Faith Assembly Church auditorium in Pasco. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $10 for students and are available at www.wwsymphony.org or by calling 509-529-8020.

Besides the Mastersingers being featured guests with the Walla Walla Symphony's holiday event, also performing will be soloists soprano Molly Holleran, mezzo-soprano Angela Niederloh, tenor Wesley Rogers and baritone Jeremy Irland. Kraig Scott is featured on organ and harpsichord.

Messiah is a musical commentary that starts with the Old Testament's proclamation of the birth of Jesus and ends with his resurrection. The music is as powerful and dramatic today as it was when George Frideric Handel composed it in 1741.

"Handel's Messiah is so beloved because it has many wonderful tunes and dramatic moments," said Holleran, a soloist with the Mastersingers. "I have sung the soprano solo and choral parts many times, and it is always very exciting (music to sing)."

She describes the piece as operatic in the scope of the story it tells, and that the music paints a joyful and profound picture that continues to move audiences each year it's performed.

Holleran studies under the tutelage of Kennewick voice teacher Reginald Unterseher, who also is a composer. She also teaches voice lessons full time in Richland and serves as the operations manager for the Mastersingers.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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