THATCHER — Eastern Arizona College’s Fine Arts Division will offer two annual favorites next week with the Festival of Carols, on Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m., followed by the 77th annual performance of Handel’s  “Messiah,” on Dec. 9, also at 7:30 p.m., as the college's gift to the community.

The Festival of Carols features EAC’s Choral and Instrumental Music departments in a Christmas music extravaganza. There will be many beloved EAC choir groups performing songs from traditional Christmas music to modernized versions of well-loved favorites.

“Festival of Carols is the EAC Music Department’s Christmas card to the Gila Valley,” said Dr. Bruce Bishop, EAC’s choir director. “Each performing group brings a new spirit to well-known Christmas songs and even to some forgotten songs. It’s great for the whole family and really helps to bring in the Christmas spirit.”

Then, Sunday, Dec. 9, community and college singers combine with the EAC Orchestra in the college’s Fine Arts Auditorium to continue the longest continual “Messiah” performance tradition west of the Mississippi River.

“The tradition began Dec. 18, 1936, when EAC’s Choir Director Ben S. Johnson presented Handel’s “Messiah” with a choir of 65 college students and 35 community members,” Bishop said. “As the years went on, they added strings and other instruments, and this year we are proud to announce the addition of EAC’s new harpsichord, played by the talented Ramona Lines.”

“Messiah,” with its majestic biblical text, magnified by Handel’s score, combines to recount the drama of the birth, life and mission of a boy born as King of Kings and Prince of Peace. This story, the drama, lies at the heart of this continuing Gila Valley Christmas tradition.
Both concerts — Festival of Carols and “Messiah,” — will be presented free of charge.

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