Sing-along with Whidbey orchestra at ‘Messiah’

Legh W. Burns conducts Roxallanne Medley

This concert has a different atmosphere than most. Instead of silently appreciating the music, the audience is asked to sing along at two community sing-along events.

Last year, Whidbey Island’s Own Saratoga Orchestra held a community sing-along of G.F. Handel’s “Messiah” in Freeland, and while they’re repeating that this year, they’re also expanding the event to Oak Harbor. The first sing-along will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 at the First Reformed Church in Oak Harbor, and a second will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland.

Charles Terpenning, guest conductor, will lead the orchestra and four soloists. Audience members will sit in sections arranged by voice range and sing sections of “Messiah.”

“A lot of the time, people enjoy concerts but if people can get involved in them, they enjoy it much more,” Terpenning said.

Those wishing to participate don’t need to worry about the quality of their singing. It’s all about having a good time together as a community, Terpenning said. Audience members are also welcome to sit and listen.

Last year’s concert was a huge success, Terpenning said.

“The turnout was amazing. The church was packed and there were even people out in the lobby,” he said.

Last year was the first time the orchestra has tried this format, a format popular in the Seattle area and around the country, Terpenning said.

“People were very excited about it. We had people coming up to us afterward asking when we’re going to do this again,” Terpenning said. “The excitement was just tremendous and I think everyone there had a great time.”

“And we have some very good soloists again this year,” Terpenning said. Soloists are Kate Matteson, LuAnne Hargis, Bill Whitney and Karl Olsen.

Most of the soloists and orchestra members performing are from the island and include former professional musicians who retired locally, members who have played in the Seattle Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra. Anyone who comes will probably recognize 90 percent of the orchestra as friends and neighbors, Terpenning said.

Terpenning has played viola in the Saratoga Orchestra for five years and volunteered to conduct this concert. He earned degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music.

“I look at this as a chance to come back and direct a very good orchestra and very good soloists,” Terpenning said.

He said he’s hoping for a good turnout so the orchestra can make this an annual tradition.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Terpenning said.

Those with scores should bring them; a limited number of copies will be available to rent at the concerts. Tickets cost $15.

Visit for more information, including sing-along tips.