PARK RIDGE, IL, October 27, 2012 – The Northwest Choral Society (“NWCS”), under the direction of artistic director Alan Wellman, will present its first concert of the season on December 1, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, IL.



The concert will feature the well loved and familiar “Christmas portion” (Part I) of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, along with the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Part II of the oratorio.  The NWCS chamber orchestra and four renowned soloists will accompany the NWCS. 


Although the oratorio is often referred to as Handel’s Messiah, the scriptural text was compiled from the Old and New Testament of the King James Bible, and from the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer by literary scholar and Shakespearean play editor Charles Jennens.  Using Jennens’ three-act, opera-like script, Handel composed the music for the entire work in twenty-four days in 1741.  It was first performed in Dublin for a charity concert in April 1742, and received its London premiere nearly a year later. In an attempt to be sensitive to criticism his composition would be performed in a London theater, Handel avoided the name Messiah and presented the work as the “New Sacred Oratorio”.  After an initially modest London reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.


Messiah consists of three sections. Part I begins with the prophecy of the Messiah and his birth, shows the annunciation to the shepherds, and reflects on his deeds. Part II covers the Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, and concludes with the familiar “Hallelujah Chorus”. One of Handel’s servants is said to have come upon him directly after he had composed this portion, and heard him exclaim, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!”


Soloists featured with the NWCS for the Messiah are:


·        Peter van de Graaff, bass-baritone, is a program host on WFMT’s “Tuesday Night at the Opera” and “Through the Night with Peter van de Graaff”.  He has performed with the Houston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Utah Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and many others throughout the world.


·        Mark Donlin, tenor, is a recent MM graduate in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University.  He has sung in the Chicago area with Music of the Baroque, Verismo Opera, Music by the Lake, and Ravenswood Opera.


·        Amanda Runge, mezzo-soprano, has sung with Mainstreet Opera, Opera on Tap, Grant Park Chorus, DaCorneto, Verismo Opera, Bakersfield Symphony and Elgin Opera Company. 


·        Sarah Gartshore, soprano, was selected as one of Symphony Magazine’s emerging artists. Her repertoire includes performances with the Richmond and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestras (in Messiah), Music of the Baroque, and with the Northbrook (IL) Symphony.   She is a nine year veteran of The Handel Week Festival of Oak Park (IL).


A complimentary preconcert lecture and discussion of the music will be hosted by chorus member John Morrison 45 minutes prior to the concert.


Tickets for the Messiah concert are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors and may be obtained online at, by calling 224 / 585-9127 or an hour prior to the concert at the Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division Street, River Forest.  2012-13 season tickets for NWCS’s concerts also are available at a 25% overall savings.


Messiah is the first of three concerts the Northwest Choral Society will perform for the 2012-2013 season.   Founded in 1965, the Northwest Choral Society is a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the appreciation, understanding and performance of a wide variety of outstanding choral literature.  Its adult membership resides in the greater Chicago area.


The Northwest Choral Society invites experienced singers to audition to join the organization.  Basses, tenors, altos and sopranos with previous choral experience and 17 years of age can obtain additional information about the Northwest Choral Society at



The Northwest Choral Society presented its 2011 holiday concert at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest.