Home Opinion Editorials 'Messiah,' other holiday traditions give season sparkle
'Messiah,' other holiday traditions give season sparkle
The Christmas season would not be complete without Rudolph the
red-nosed reindeer, Santa Claus and the enactment of the Nativity
scene, nor would it be totally fulfilling without such local traditions
as the Holiday Music Festival, the Lanetta Paul & Friends Recital
and George Frederic Handel’s oratorio, “Messiah.”
Recently the community was treated to a masterful performance of “Messiah.” More than 70 people had been perfecting this labor of love since rehearsals started way back in sunny September, some traveling 100 miles each way weekly for the privilege. Yes, 100 miles each way in all sorts of weather, and all the wear and tear on the body and the automobile that implies. This is a pretty darn big act of personal sacrifice and service. Leading the “Messiah” charge is director Don Jensen. The former music director in schools in
La Grande and Washington state and former director of the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra plays an instrumental role in the success of the performance each year, which in turn helps him personally testify to the importance of the Christmas story in many
Jensen’s association with the local performance of “Messiah” goes all the way back to 1979. Under his direction, the Oratorio was staged every year through 1985, when it even got the attention of Oregon Public Broadcasting television.
Pursuing a career took him away from La Grande for more than 20 years. But when Jensen and his wife retired back to La Grande, the annual performances of “Messiah” were brought back by popular demand.
But Jensen couldn’t do it alone. The show is a tribute to the dedication of a talented cast of people, some of whom were in the original 1979 show and play a role in it even today. Their experience pays dividends. Their positive contributions to the community don’t go unnoticed.
Next year’s performance is already scheduled for Dec. 10-11. People who haven’t already should mark the dates on their new 2010 calendar as a must-attend.
Jensen said that even after he’s gone, others in the community will step up and put on “Messiah.” That’s reassuring. There are certain things communities La Grande’s size and larger should have, and an annual performance of “Messiah” is one of them. It’s part of a rich Christmas tradition of excellent shows that gives residents a renewed sense of pride in their communities. The civic-minded people who put on these holiday shows are making the world a little better place. Here’s a round of applause for a job well done.