Eli Allen has been a performer for most of his life. He might only be 16 years old, but he can play the piano, guitar, violin, mandolin and banjo, and he sings.
For the last few years, he’s participated in the annual Christmas program put on by the Yuba-Sutter Oratorio Society – George Frederic Handel’s “Messiah,” which was written and composed in the mid-1700s.
This year, on top of his duties singing bass chorus, he’ll be performing a two-minute solo. It will be his first solo, but his years of experience give him confidence.
Leading up to the shows on Dec. 7-8, he’s been practicing every chance he gets with a pianist.
“I’ve done this show twice now. I like singing, it’s a lot of fun,” Allen said. “It’s hard to explain, you have to experience it for yourself.”
Allen is one of nine siblings who will be performing in the classic oratorio. He and two brothers will be singing in the adult choir, while the younger six siblings will be participating in the Messiah for Kids performance. They come from a family of musicians, with their mother having played piano virtually all her life and a father who was a music major at one point.
“(My favorite part of participating in the show) is the people you meet and the joy of performing and improving your skills,” Allen said.
His talent, along with performances by dozens of others from the community, will be on display next weekend at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.
“This is our 81st annual performance of Handel’s ‘Messiah,’” said Corey Kersting, conductor of the Yuba-Sutter Symphony. “The Oratorio Society was started with the purpose of putting on Handel’s ‘Messiah’ every year in our community and since that time, we’ve expanded our mission to also promote music in the community, and more specifically youth musicians.”
The oratorio tells the story of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through music, Kersting said. The nonprofit organization puts the show on around Christmas every year.
“The Yuba-Sutter Oratorio Society is an umbrella organization for the local symphony and chorus, and we come together every year to perform the ‘Messiah,’” he said. “We have around 80 choir members and about 25 in the orchestra.”
Kersting has been leading the orchestra for 17 years, while Linda Robinson directs the chorus.
“We have some tremendous musicians in our community that love performing this,” Kersting said. “Some of the people in our group have been part of these performances for 50 years or longer. It’s just remarkable how many of the people in our organization look forward to sharing this with the community every year.”
Messiah for Kids is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Dec. 7 at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church – 1390 Franklin Road, Yuba City. This will be the seventh year this version of the oratorio has been put on, which is shorter and includes brief introductions and explanations of the music and text.
On Dec. 8, the traditional performance of “Messiah” featuring the adult choir is planned for 4 p.m. at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.
Both concerts are free to the public, with donations accepted. For more information, go to www.ysos.org.
“If you haven’t ever been to one, it’s a really great way to prepare for the Christmas season,” Kersting said. “With all the busyness surrounding Christmas, it’s nice to sit and reflect and enjoy some amazing music for an hour and a half or so.”