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10th annual ‘Handel with Care’ is a hit

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by BRIAN GAWLEY
Sequim Gazette

More than 170 people attended Sunday’s 10th annual “Handel With Care” at Trinity United Methodist Church.

The annual community sing-along of Handel’s “Messiah” raised $4,476 for Sequim Community Aid with concert-goers donating $2,238 and an anonymous Sequim couple matching it.

The 62-year-old aid organization provides assistance with rent or utilities and social service referrals.

“So many people help, I’m not going to try to name them all,” said Shirley Anderson as people began filing into the pews and finding the music scores.

Anderson helped start Sequim’s version of “Handel with Care” after moving here in 1991 from San Francisco, where “Messiah” had been performed as a charity fundraiser for years.

The musical scores were borrowed from the Port Angeles Symphony and churches including First Presbyterian Church of Port Angeles, First United Methodist Church of Port Angeles and Seattle First Presbyterian Church.

Conductor/director Dewey Ahling reassured novice performers before they began by saying, “If you miss a couple of notes, laugh it off and carry on.”

After their rendition of “But Who May Abide The Day Of His Coming?” Ahling drew a laugh from the audience by saying, “We might need a little work on that before the recording session.”

Mary Moon, a Sequim voice and instrument teacher, was one of three soloists.

Another was Esther Morgan-Ellis, a Port Angeles High School graduate pursuing a Ph.D. in music history at Yale University.

The third was Anneka Morgan, of Sequim, who is a fifth-year senior in voice at Western Washington University.

The performance also featured Ryan Weed, a 2002 Port Angeles High School graduate, who played the timpani (kettle drum) in his 10th consecutive “Handel with Care.”

Weed’s presence was notable because he is in the second year of a three-year Ph.D. program in physics — in Australia.

Ahling credited Anderson, Pat Marcy of Sequim and Karen Coles of Port Angeles in putting together the event.

German composer George Frederic Handel received the libretto, or text, for “Messiah” from his frequent collaborator Charles Jennens in midsummer 1741.

Jennens selected and combined biblical texts, rewriting some passages so they fit better to music. Handel then locked himself away for 24 days, from Aug. 22 to Sept. 14, before emerging several pounds lighter with the completed work in hand.

Handel avoided the fickle London audiences and instead premiered the piece in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742, as a charitable fundraiser.

The performance raised 400 British pounds, enough money to free 142 men from debtors’ prison.

Later it was performed in London to raise money for English hospitals.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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