The Return Of Too Hot To Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah
One of Chicago's favorite yearly events celebrates a milestone anniversary at a historic venue
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FOR the 10th consecutive year, the highly anticipated Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah is back, and fans––posting reviews on social media––are quick to share their thoughts on why the concert reinvigorates audiences and why the splendid reimaging of Handel’s Messiah has become an annual must-attend outing:
• “As an avid jazz lover and other forms of Black/African-American music and after a long time enjoying Handel's Messiah and other classical holiday music, Too Hot To Handel was wonderful, exciting and inspirational. I clapped; I recited the Scripture references along with the performers. I even found myself stomping my feet. It was a most enjoyable experience and confirmation of my faith in God. I certainly will return for future performances of this production.” Veteran 1985
• “Too Hot to Handel was one of the best shows that I have ever seen. The music was powerful; the musicians talented; and the modification of Handel's Messiah was truly moving. I can't stop singing it! It was unforgettable, and I will definitely be back again!” Anonymous
• “It was great!!! The soloists were outstanding and the choir was superb, very energetic and precise. The instrumentalists were AWESOME! My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, and we look forward to attending again next year.” Pooney12
Well, next year is here, and the award-winning production will again thrill audiences at the Auditorium Theatre on January 17-18, featuring soloists Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson. Their incredible voices will blend with those of an amazing and inclusive choir (different races, genders and backgrounds) to put a unique signature on one of music’s classic works. The Chicago Concert Choir is a diverse collection of singers from throughout Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, and the common thread among the group is the belief that the power of music can unite and inspire people.
The reinvention of one of Handel’s most famous classical works (by incorporating a symphony orchestra, choir and exceptional soloists) is also an uplifting musical celebration to honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Too Hot to Handel coincides with the King national holiday and highlights a vibrant mix of jazz, gospel, blues, swing, classical and scat. This unique version, which highlights the kind of diversity that King promoted, is designed to capture the spirit and message of the Nobel Peace Prize-winner.
Handel’s extraordinary oratorio was composed in 1741 with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible. It was first performed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1742 and has become one of the most frequently performed choral works in Western music. The piece was first reimaged in 1993 when daring composers Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson presented the reinvented Messiah at Lincoln Center in New York. Since then the celebrated work has moved the souls of millions in several cities across the nation.
During the past decade, Too Hot to Handel has firmly established itself as a solid fan-favorite and, coincidentally, this year celebrates its 10-year milestone at the same time the Auditorium Theatre is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The musical extravaganza is one of the many events that was cited during the recent gala celebration of the theater’s amazing history––history that was created by the various entertainers who have performed on that much-revered stage.
Award-winning tenor Rodrick Dixon is again scheduled to perform during the Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah at the Auditorium Theatre.
Soprano Alfreda Burke (left, who is married to Rodrick Dixon) and alto Karen Marie Richardson also will be featured soloists at Too Hot to Handel, which is conducted (below) by Suzanne Mallare Acton, resident conductor for the Michigan Opera Theatre.
Too Hot to Handel performances are scheduled for Saturday, January 17 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, January 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets ($25-$70) are available online at AuditoriumTheatre.org. Or call (800) 982-2787. Tickets are also available at the Auditorium Theatre box office at 50 E. Congress Parkway. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are available at (312) 341-2357.