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Handel’s ‘Messiah’ Celebrates Dr. King’s Legacy in ‘Too Hot to Handel’ Revision

Too Hot to Handel, the jazz-gospel interpretation of Handel’s Messiah, is playing at the magnificent and breathtaking Auditorium Theatre.

Every inch of the stage was filled with musicians. At the front of the stage were the three African American soloists. Behind them, a 50-piece symphony orchestra and jazz ensemble conducted by the energetic female conductor Suzanne Mall, accompanied by Acton and 150 voices of the citywide Too Hot Choir. That’s over 200 musicians of all races, genders, and backgrounds brought together to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

Messiah, the inspiration for the performance, is an  oratorio composed in 1741 by George Handel with scriptural text compiled from the King James Bible. An oratorio is similar to an opera in that it’s a large-scale concert piece, but there are no characters or direct speeches.

The soulful combination of Rodrick Dixon’s tenor, Alfreda Burke’s soprano, Karen Marie Richardson’s alto, the extraordinary Too Hot Orchestra, and versatile Too Hot Jazz Band created such magic that you couldn’t help but sing and clap along.

Alvin Waddles’ piano solo during the finale performance of “Hallelujah” made everyone leap to their feet and dance in the aisles in jubilation.

The playbill listed a famous quote from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing…”

All night Dr.King’s quote played in my mind as I enjoyed the melodic journey that represented the fulfillment of a dream. It was my first time attending this annual event, and I strongly recommend marking your calendar to see it next year. –deanna burrell