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Weekend Reviews : Pop : Sandi Patti Among Standouts in ‘Young Messiah’ Concert

Fans of Christian music couldn’t have wished for a better event than Friday’s “Young Messiah” at the Anaheim Arena. The first half of the sold-out performance was devoted to a far-ranging selection of carols and hymns. Without exception, the individual singers were impressive.

Sandi Patti, perhaps the best-known of the performers, was a diva without comparison. Her passionate version of “Oh Holy Night” was the showcase moment of the evening’s opening segment. BeBe and CeCe Winans found gospel revelations in “The First Noel,” and Michael English’s “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” provided a contemporary slant on a traditional theme.

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“Young Messiah,” a ‘90s rendering of the classic Christmas oratorio, was the feature of the evening’s second half. The spirit, the intent and, in most cases, the musical integrity of Handel’s work were totally respected.

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In several cases, the “Young Messiah” interpretations brought fascinating new perspective to the originals. First Call’s brilliant harmonization of “Rejoice Greatly” was one illuminating example. An ecstatic reading of “Surely He Has Borne Our Grief” by Larnelle Harris, Steven Curtis Chapman and English was another.

The “Young Messiah” version of the closing “Hallelujah” chorus shifted the rhythms around a bit, while retaining the soaring energies of the original. It was an appropriate, contemporary-tinged, high-flying climax to a gracious, loving treatment of the work.

Ralph Carmichael conducted the 40-piece orchestra for “Young Messiah,” which was created and produced by Norman Miller.


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