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POCO presenting selections from ‘Messiah’

| December 6, 2022 1:00 AM

The Pend Oreille Chorale and Orchestra is ready for its annual Christmas concerts.

This year the entire concert will consist of selections from Handel’s "Messiah." The concerts will be Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 4 p.m. The concerts are special because the Pend Oreille Chorale and Orchestra will be celebrating their 30th year of totally free public concerts by and for the people of North Idaho.

This year the Church of Latter-day Saints on North Boyer across from the fairgrounds will generously host both concerts, POCO officials said. The ladies of the church have graciously offered to provide a reception after the concerts, and The Selkirk Brass will perform joyful Christmas darols in the foyer before the main performance.

Thirty years ago, before the name was even adopted, Mark and Caren Reiner formed a group of musicians to perform selections from Handel’s "Messiah." The group formed the nucleus of what became POCO, the Pend Oreille Chorale and Orchestra, a dedicated group of volunteer musicians from North Idaho who donate their time and talent to perform quality classical musical twice a year for the enjoyment of the community. Although POCO has presented "The Messiah" many times since then, a policy was made to present it only once every five years in order to allow other excellent Christmas music to be heard. The time has again arrived to present selections from it.

Handel’s "Messiah" is often held up as an example of a divinely inspired piece of music due to the fact that it was completed in three weeks' time. Handel was known as an opera composer, and by 1740 his Italian-styled operas were falling out of favor, Mark Reiner said.

As a consequence, Handel turned his attention to oratorios, Reiner said. Some of the pieces in the "Messiah" were reworked from his operas, and as an oratorio, now carry a dramatic and forceful presentation of a religious nature rather than a secular one. Thus especially at Christmas, the "Messiah" has been and is being performed many times.

"The Pend Oreille Chorale and Orchestra have always been pleased to present free uplifting performances for anyone who enjoys serious classical music," Caren Reiner said. "This is why we sincerely invite everyone to attend the free concerts."

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