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Morgan Valley Arts performs the third annual ‘Messiah’

Jan 09, 2024 09:57AM ● By Ethan Hoffmann

(From left to right) Cliff Sharp, Clara Hurtado Lee, Abby Beattie, Emily Shumway Pfeifer, Macey Quigley Russel, and Bill Wiser.

Courtesy photo

Last Sunday, Dec. 17, the Morgan Valley Arts Council presented its third annual production of Messiah. Messiah is a free family event and a dress rehearsal was open to the public on Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. The event was located in the Morgan High School auditorium and took place at 7:30. Visitors were greeted by towering Christmas trees adorned with red poinsettia flowers and a spiritual aura to welcome the Christmas season. Opening remarks were given and the invocation was introduced by Amy Ward. In addition, Rudy Cordeiro read the program notes.

The concert featured singers and orchestra players from the Morgan Valley Chamber and the music was conducted by Emily Shumway Pfeifer with Abby Marie Beattie serving as the concertmaster. The performance was divided into five scenes and four unique voice parts were included throughout. Macey Quigley Russel as mezzo-soprano, Cliff Sharp as tenor, Bill Wiser as baritone, and a special appearance from Clara Hurtado Lee. To learn more about Lee, visit:

The performance itself incorporated seasonal highlights from the Messiah oratorio written by George Frédéric Handel, a German-British composer. An oratorio is “a large-scale musical work for orchestra and voices, typically has a religious theme” as stated by Oxford Languages. states, “Handel composed Messiah without getting much sleep or even eating much food. When his assistants brought him his meals, they were often left uneaten. His servants would often find him in tears as he composed. When he completed “Hallelujah,” he reportedly told his servant, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on his throne, with His company of Angels.”

During the show, the audience was invited to participate by singing along to multiple songs in the program. The most memorable of them all was the finale, “Hallelujah”, which encouraged the audience to stand and sing with the choir while being accompanied by the orchestra. According to, the most accepted reason for this tradition is that “King George II stood up during the chorus at the Messiah's 1743 premiere” and the audience followed suit. In ancient Europe, it was customary to remain standing until the monarch was seated and to stand when the king rose to his feet.

Sharp, the tenor and a local resident of Morgan, has been singing in the Messiah for a very long time. He has performed in many places including Blanding, Logan, Idaho Falls, Delta, and Ogden. “You don't need to be a trained musician to learn something and grow from the experience,” said Sharp on the subject. “The Messiah is a masterwork and has been performed more than any other choral music in history. To be able to sing it with a group of people is a fulfilling opportunity that I think everyone should have. It’s a rarity for people to sing this level of music with relatively little preparation. Most of all, it’s a special gift that gives back to everyone involved.” 

Lee is an opera singer, concert soloist, recitalist, and voice teacher; Morgan was graced by her warm soprano voice during her solo during the concert. "They have a beautiful sound, intonation, spirit, and accuracy,” said Lee in a Facebook post. “I think they played my spritely Rejoice tempo better than anyone ever has! They could stand up next to any community group in the state. It is a miracle and a gift to see and hear them.”

Beattie has always loved music. She has been associated with many musical groups as a violinist and was part of guest performances in Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. In addition, she is a founding member of the Chamber Orchestra Ogden. "I love being a part of Morgan Valley's annual Messiah Singalong!” said Beattie. “Playing and singing with friends and community members creates such a wonderful feeling of gratitude and joy for everyone involved that lasts from the start of our practices in the fall all the way to the performance. It really is a gift to our valley!”

Morgan Valley Arts Council has multiple upcoming events in store for Morgan County next year: Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God on April 21, a Rubber Duck Race on July 4, and an early fall Arts Extravaganza (date TBD). For those interested in participating in future events and/or sharing their musical talents, visit to learn more.λ

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