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'Hallelujah' for a Christmas tradition

About 200 attend San Ramon Arts Foundation "Sing-Along Messiah"

The "Hallelujah" chorus in Handel's "Messiah" is powerful and bold. German-born composer George Frideric Handel, who composed the work in 1741 in only 23 days, is quoted as having said, "During the composition of the Hallelujah Chorus, I think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God himself."

"Hallelujah" is so exuberant and uplifting, in fact, the audience of about 200 people at the "Sing-along Messiah" Sunday sang it twice.

Presented by the San Ramon Arts Foundation at San Ramon Presbyterian Church, the musical masterpiece was performed by the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Timothy M. Smith, music director/conductor.

The performance featured four soloists: Elizabeth Hunter Ashley, soprano; Meghan Dibble, mezzo-soprano; Theodore Weis, baritone; and Dean Christman, tenor. Christman doubled as the choral workshop director.

Dick Vespermann, who has been at all of the "at least 25" performances and said, "I've been at every one, and this was one of the best."

The complete oratorio, which requires nearly four hours to perform, is divided into three parts: first, the announcement of the hope for a savior, then the story of his birth; second, the suffering and crucifixion; and last, a confession of faith and belief in the life everlasting.

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