Area music groups to present ‘Messiah’

By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer

For the first time in about 20 years, Portales is hosting a performance of Handel’s acclaimed choral piece “Messiah.”

Eastern New Mexico University’s Chamber Singers and University Singers, Portales High School choir students, Clovis High School choir students, High Plains Chorale and the Kingswood United Methodist Church choir are joining to provide vocals. Lubbock professional orchestra Caprock Pro Musica is providing the instrumentals.

The audience is invited to sing along. The choirs are performing only the first portion and the Halleluja Chorus, and the event is expected to last about an hour.

“It’s a master work. There’s no question about that,” said Donald Paschke, a retired ENMU professor singing with the group.

Paschke, 79, said he first sang in “Messiah” at age 19 and is back for another of many peformances because of the great music and great director.

Assistant Professor of Music Jason Paulk is directing the production, which he instigated.

“I just felt it’s the right time for our students to experience ‘Messiah,’” he said.

Paulk believed his pupils were ready for the challenge of singing many notes in a short amount of time, and he said classical music students needed to perform the quintessential Baroque piece.

Senior vocal performance major Holly Davis, the soprano soloist, said “Messiah” is one of her favorite works and she has been familiar with it all her life.

“It’s really challenging,” Davis said, naming the reason she likes singing the piece.

Ray Welker of the First United Methodist Church choir said he joined the performance choir because he wanted the challenge of singing something really good. The 70-year-old also said he enjoys being with the young, energetic singers.

Sophomore music education and vocal performance major Jessica Marquez said “Messiah” was challenging to learn but very rewarding. She is singing a solo.

“Every time I sing it, I’m just already in the Christmas spirit,” Marquez said.

Fast facts:

What: Performance of Handel’s “Messiah”

When: Sunday at 4 p.m.

Where: Eastern New Mexico University ballroom

Cost: $5