Handel wrote the oratorio "Messiah" in 24 days in late 1741, and despite near-constant use since then, it might have been written yesterday. Few, if any, works have been as popular, and none is more closely and affectionately associated with Christmas. For many people, the Christmas season would simply not be the Christmas season without listening to or singing in Handel's masterpiece.
Opportunities to do both are usually plentiful. "Messiah" performances are as longstanding here as they are anyplace else in the English-speaking world, and one of the outstanding annual Rochester presentations of "Messiah" returns this weekend: the performance by the Rochester Chamber Orchestra. As is customary, "Messiah" will be conducted by RCO Conductor Laureate David Fetler; guest soloists are soprano Leslie Fagan, alto Megan McFadden, tenor Stephen Carroll, and bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee, a 2015 Met National Auditions winner. They're backed up by the Festival Singers, and the Bach Children's Chorus of Nazareth College. No singing along – but you can still stand up during the "Hallelujah!" chorus.
Rochester Chamber Orchestra presents Handel's "Messiah " Sunday, December 6, at 7 p.m. at Hochstein Performance Hall, 50 N. Plymouth Ave. $30, seniors $20, students $10. www.rochesterchamberorchestra.org, also available at Wegmans service counters.