OHS performing ‘Messiah’ with community, alumni involvement

December 4, 2021 | 12:06 am

Updated December 3, 2021 | 9:24 pm

It’s tradition for Owensboro High School Choir Teacher Jenifer Wiggins to have a major choral work every two years that includes alumni, community members and staff within the school system. This will be the first time in three years that OHS will be putting on major work as they take the stage with George Frideric Handel’s Messiah.

The performance set for Dec. 12 was originally planned for last December, but due to the pandemic Wiggins had to cancel the event. She said it was a devastating moment for her when the music arrived last year.

“I remember in 2020 when my big box of Messiah [music] that I ordered came in around August or July, just sitting in my office looking at them and crying. Just so devastated by not being able to perform,” Wiggins said.

Preparing her choir for the show has been more difficult than in previous years, but she is still glad for the work they have put in thus far.

In a normal set of four years, students would have a chance to perform by their sophomore year and have more time in person to practice. Over the last year and a half, performing and gathering has been almost obsolete.

Wiggins said the norm most of her choir knows now is singing into computers and using online resources to better their craft, and sadly not performing as a whole choir amongst their peers.

With the help of her upperclassmen along with other online resources, she thinks they are ready to put on a good show as they have been preparing for a long time to get to this place.

At the beginning of the year when she announced to her classes they were doing the Messiah, her students responded to how difficult it was to perform and said things like “Mrs. Wiggins this is too hard.”

“[Recently] they sang every note. I love seeing them tackle professional level music and seeing that they can accomplish difficult things in life. I’m so proud,” Wiggins said.

Starting the year, she intended to do the Messiah long before Owensboro Choral Society canceled their annual show. With the cancellation, she has seen how excited the community is to be able to still perform the traditional piece.

Per the usual tradition of inviting the community, Wiggins uses outside guests to show her students that even if they don’t continue on a path of music performance, they can still participate in community choirs.

The roughly 30 additional vocalists in the performance have a variety of ties to the school. Some are community members, others are alumni of OHS, while some are workers within the system.

“The response from our alumni and community have been really fantastic this year. I think it’s because we’ve not been able to have big concerts for so long,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins said some familiar faces to the OPS community include teachers at elementary schools and even district Superintendent Dr. Matthew Constant.

While she is excited to gather everyone together for this traditional performance, she knows that precautions have to be taken. All performers will be masked along with all audience members.

Wiggins assured that the only time masks will be removed will be when soloists step away from the group to perform their solo.

Resuming this tradition is something that is a dream come true for Wiggins. She said when she began teaching she wanted to do major work and being able to get everyone involved after so long has been a great experience.

“It was just very healing, very celebratory. Just something that’s been waiting a long time for. I’m just excited that [my students] get to experience this and I can’t wait to give the downbeat on Dec. 12,” Wiggins said.

If anyone would like to join in the choir, she says to email her as soon as possible letting her know. She can be reached here.

December 4, 2021 | 12:06 am

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