The Sedalia Symphony Orchestra will present Handel’s “Messiah,” directed by Sandy Cordes, right, at 3 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church. 

The Sedalia Sedalia Symphony Society will present its annual “gift” to the community with the performance of Handel’s “Messiah” on Sunday.

This will be the 31st year for director Sandy Cordes to direct the all-volunteer choir. Cordes said although she has been involved with the performance for more than 30 years, the “Messiah” has been performed in Sedalia for many years.

“It was long before me,” she said. “No one seems to know how long … I know the first time I did ‘Messiah’ I played viola, I was a string person in the beginning.

“Then I remember when I was in college or right after I got out of college Geraldine Schrader called me and asked me to do a solo,” she continued. “So, I became a singer, then I got hooked.”

She said through the years there have been ups and downs, but each year the choir spends many hours perfecting the performance.

“They are really good at rising to the occasion,” Cordes noted. “I was a little concerned about the soloists this year because the parts didn’t have anybody who auditioned.”

Her worries were resolved when people began coming forward and the solo slots were filled. First-time soloists this year are Judge Paul Beard and Debbie Sturgill, of Whiteman Air Force Base.

“Then I’ve got Leah Meyer coming back, who is not new,” Cordes said. “She’s been doing it for years and she is working on her doctorate in music at the University of Missouri.”

Bass soloist this year is Brenden Hurley. Singing “He Shall Feed His Flock” will be Emily Westermier and Wilma Moellman will follow with a soprano solo.

Cordes added this year the choir has a new twist since she has 10 to 12 bass singers.

“The choir is kind of interesting in the fact that I have lots of basses, lots,” she said. “Tenors, I’ve got maybe six or seven.”

She estimates there are 40 to 45 singers this year in the choir.

“I think it all really pulls together at the end,” she said. “In my opinion, their heart is always there.

“They love singing ‘Messiah,’ they love giving glory to God,” she continued. “I think that’s really important.”

Piano accompanist for the performance will be Cheryl McCollester, “the glue that holds it all together,” Cordes said.

Cordes added she enjoys directing the “Messiah” because the music is inspiring.

“The music inspires you to do better,” she explained. “I’ve directed it, I’ve sang the solos, I’ve played the viola. I’ve kind of done whole gamut and there’s not one time I’ve not learned something new.”

Cordes, who hasn’t missed a performance in 31 years, noted George Frideric Handel was a “genius” who wrote the music in 24 days.

“He didn’t have a computer, he did it all by hand,” she said. “It’s all up in his head, it’s amazing, brilliant. That inspires you as you sing it. You think about his genius being poured into it.”

Cordes said she encourages everyone to come to the performance.

“We’d be thrilled to have them,” she added. “If they have never heard the ‘Messiah,’ they haven’t heard real music yet, because it’s so beautiful.

“And I want to tell you it’s difficult,” she continued. “The music is difficult. It’s got these long runs, seven measures long with all these 32nd notes in it. (The choir) they have to sit down and learn the pattern … it’s hard.”

During each performance, Cordes said she imagines her late father looking done on her. This past year her husband, Howard, died after a long illness. During this performance, she added she knows he will be looking down also.

“He knew how important ‘Messiah’ was to me,” she said. “He’s looking down and probably smiling.”

The Sedalia Symphony Society will host Handel’s “Messiah” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 at First Baptist Church, 200 E. Sixth St. The event is free and open to the public. 

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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