It was magnificent. Tom Sheets, the director of the Choral Union, has performed a musical miracle: the Choral Union is the best chorus I have ever heard live. Under Sheets's direction, the chorus sang with ease, grace, and power, with dynamics from the most hushed pianissimo to the most earth-shattering fortissimo, with expressions from horror to awe to ecstasy. And Sheets's Messiah was also a deeply affecting spiritual drama the birth and exaltation of the Christian Lord and Savior depicted in sound by a composer of genius and evoked in performance by a conductor of tremendous talent and abilities. There was no moment during the performance when I doubted that I was in the presence of profound spiritual greatness. Even the sing-along "Hallelujah" Chorus became a communal sharing of the music's spirituality by the congregation.
The Choral Union's annual Messiah is at the Michigan Theater Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7.
[Originally published in December, 2002.]