Rockford Choral Union performs Handel's 'Messiah'

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The Rockford Choral Union spent its Thanksgiving weekend celebrating the season with its 74th annual performance of Handel's famous composition.

More than 120 singers from 60 different churches all across the Stateline come together to perform the Oratorio, which explores the biblical story of the Christmas season.

Soloists Michael Day, Susan Nelson, Joanna Gates and Nicolai Janitsky joined the performers.

A large baroque chamber orchestra also joined with a harpsichord, trumpet and organ.

"We do two performances every year at this time, it's kind of like the start of everybody's Christmas holiday," Mike Beert of the Rockford Choral Union says. "So many people come up to me afterwards and say, 'This really puts me in the mood for the holiday season."

Organizers say the annual concert is considered the oldest uninterrupted tradition in Rockford.

The concerts are held at Emmanuel Lutheran Church at 920 Third Avenue in Rockford.