Nature Coast festival singers prepare for annual Christmas concerts


Twenty years ago, the late Richard and Carol Desautels founded a choir with a simple goal: to perform Handel’s Messiah.

Each year the choir would give a Christmas concert featuring the first half of the well-known piece; the second half was performed during a spring concert.

Although the couple are deceased, their legacy lives on through the singers of the Nature Coast Festival. The choir, which has more than 70 voices, continues to sing a Christmas and spring concert each year.

This year’s holiday event kicks off Sunday at Spring Hill United Church of Christ. A second concert will take place on December 8 at the Lutheran Church of the Nativity in Weeki Wachee. The concerts will be dedicated to the memory of the Desautels.

The concerts will include several changes, most notably Messiah’s lack of music. Instead, the concert will feature familiar Christmas carols and Christmas favorites, such as Oh holy night and Gloria, with just a taste of the Messiah.

“We will have Alleluia“Said Liesl King, President of Singers Advertising.” The concert just wouldn’t be the same without it. “

King also said this year’s concert will feature “some of our best alumni” – Bethany Barnes and Lauren Albaum, both singing students of acclaimed vocal teacher Roberta Moger.

Barnes, 15, sang with the Nature Coast Children’s Choir from 2008 to 2013 and currently sings with the Gulf Coast Le Petite Choir and Voce de Veta. Among the songs she will perform are Wolcom Yole !, that little baby and Spring Carol.

Albaum, a graduate of Land O’Lakes High School and Florida State University, continues to perform throughout the Tampa Bay area. She is vice-chair of the board of directors of the Tampa Bay Children’s Chorus. she will sing Balulalow and will perform a duet of Deo Gracias with Barnes.

Also, at the Sunday concert only, Albaum will perform Pietro Yon Gesu Bambino. And, at the concert on December 8, Barnes will perform the Rejoice.

But Handel fans don’t have to worry. The choir will still offer the first half of Messiah, during their “Handel’s Messiah – A Community Sing” on December 15 at First United Methodist Church in Hudson.

Now in its third year, community singing has been extremely popular, attracting over 60 singers from the Tampa Bay area.

“The past year has been amazing,” King said. “It drew people from as far away as Sebring.… It was a really great choir that came together.… Most of them weren’t from the (festival singers’ choir).”

This year’s community song will include orchestral accompaniment, as well as several professional soloists. Those who wish to participate in community song are welcome. Two rehearsals are scheduled, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on December 12 and from 10 a.m. to noon on December 14.

“We invite all members of all surrounding communities who have already sung The Messiah to join our performance, ”King said. “We are expecting a great variety of singers. “

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