I first encountered the Sing It Yourself Messiah through public television. My wife and I saw a telecast from Davies Symphony Hall of a performance of George Frideric Handel’s HWV 56 oratorio Messiah in which the audience was encouraged to do most of the singing (with generous support from performers on stage). This was the brainchild of Milton Salkind, former President of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). He launched the event in 1979, and it became a Davies tradition for over 25 years.
That tradition has since been taken up by Urs Leonhardt Steiner, an SFCM student during Salkind’s administration and now Music Director of the Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. Next month his ensemble will give three Sing It Yourself Messiah performances, marking the tenth anniversary of the group continuing this tradition. They will be joined by four vocal soloists, soprano Gina Silvermann, alto Theresa Cardinale, tenor William Wiggins, and bass Alex Ip; and the solo trumpeter will be Franklin Beau Davis. Specific dates and venues are as follows:
Monday, December 12, 7:30 p.m.: This will be the “official concert version” occasion. It will take place at the Mission Dolores Basilica at 3321 16th Street, on the southwest corner of Dolores Street. General admission will be $35 with a $20 rate for seniors aged 65 and older and youth under the age of eighteen, Tickets may be purchased in advance online from a City Box Office event page. The remaining two performances will take place at popular bars, also in the Mission District.
Sunday, December 18, 6 p.m.: The first bar performance will take place at the Southern Pacific Brewery. This is located at 620 Treat Avenue, just south of 19th Street and east of Folsom Street. The basic idea is that the event is open to all with the hope that they will also be customers. However, seating will be limited. A donation of $20 will be encouraged.
Monday, December 19, 8 p.m.: The following night the action will shift to The Homestead. This is located in the same area of the Mission at 2301 Folsom Street, again south of 19th Street. The Homestead is more of a neighborhood bar. This means that is has less space, and music resources will be limited to the chorus with piano accompaniment. Seating will probably be even more limited. A donation of $20 will again be encouraged.