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United Church of Christ invites community members to hear Handel's classic.

NEWS-TIMES/HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: MICHAEL SPROLES - Joannah Ball, Michael Fox, Paul Minor and Laura Frye huddle up before a rehearsal for Messiah begins.The last time something akin to the "Messiah" Sing-Along happened in Forest Grove was nearly 10 years ago, when retired music professor Dr. George Hashbarger led the then-community choir at Christmastime.

On Dec. 10 at 4 p.m., local residents can head over to the United Church of Christ, 2032 College Way, to participate in or simply listen to the musical phenomenon.

"The event will feature some familiar choruses. We've got 'Glory of the Lord,' 'Glory to God' and more," said choir director Laura Frye.

"Messiah" is an English-language oratorio originally composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, and is one of the most frequently performed works in musical history. Although the work was originally intended to be performed during the Easter season, orchestras and choirs across the country stage performances of it every December because of its strong ties to Christmas.

The evening is co-sponsored by the FGUCC Choir and the Forest Grove Public Arts Commission, which gave the church a grant to hire Michael Fox, organist for the sing-along. Fox has previously worked with Frye, having played the organ for both the FGUCC and the Forest Grove United Methodist Church. He is now the organist for the Hillsboro United Methodist Church.

"He's a local organist that I knew could handle it," said Frye.

The sing-along will also feature two soloists — Joannah Ball, a soprano, and Paul Minor, a tenor. Both have worked with Frye prior to the upcoming event.

"We're putting this on so that people can sing familiar choruses in a choir setting for the holidays," said Frye. "I'm hopeful that people will come. The people that do will be familiar with the musical work."

If they aren't, they can always look through the musical scores provided, which were loaned to FGUCC by Pacific University. The event has been publicized through the college, Forest Grove High School and other spaces within the community. Following deadlines, presenting to the commission and setting everything up have proven challenging to Frye; however, the success of the event could lead to similar events happening down the line.

"It's very possible that this could become a tradition, even if I'm not directing in the future," Frye said. "This could be an easy sell, something that people really look forward to."

The event is free and open to the public. Those who attend are encouraged to join in on the fun and chime in on singing parts they know.

For more information, call the FGUCC at 503-357-9121.

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