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Draper Journal

Draper “Messiah” Performance and Sing-in

Nov 06, 2015 08:46AM ● By Erin Dixon

By Erin Dixon

Draper - This December is the 37th annual Draper “Messiah” Performance and Sing-in. This long standing tradition was founded by Layne and Marian Wright.

The first performance of the “Messiah” by George Frideric Handel was, in fact, not during the Christmas season, but during Easter. It debuted in Dublin in April 1742. However, over time the lack of other sacred Christmas music spurred audiences to dedicate it to the Christmas season. 

The oratorio is divided into three parts: Christ’s birth, His Atonement and His Resurrection, making its Christmas dedication quite appropriate. The style of the “Messiah” was appealing to the crowds because, unlike the sacred compositions of Handel’s contemporaries, Handel focused on his own feelings toward the divine, rather than simply stating the grandeur of God above mankind, according to The music gives the performers and audience a chance to express their love and devotion, not simply their awe of the divine. 

Those same feelings are echoed today, especially during the triumphant “Hallelujah” chorus. 

“The desire of the performers remains the same: people from all walks of life stand shoulder-to-shoulder and heart to heart in joining voices and sharing their testimonies of the Messiah and their love and gratitude for Him, who will one day reign as ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords’,” Marian Wright said.

“Speaking personally, the holiday season would not be as sweet without the Draper ‘Messiah’.  The music is powerful and inspired.  It’s a very special experience,” Sam Wright, son of Marian and Layne, said. 

The “Messiah’s” debut attracted over 700 people. Back then, the ladies in attendance were encouraged not to wear hoop skirts, to make room for more people in the concert hall. Today, the performance in the small town of Draper attracts 400-500 people for each performance.

The Draper choir and orchestra are made of more than 100 people, some professionals and long-standing participants, to amateurs and first-timers, all locals. Entrance to the performances is free of charge.