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It’s both a time-honored tradition and an exciting, one-of-a-kind spectacle.

The Oratorio Society of Queens will present its annual holiday concert at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center in Bayside on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 4 pm. And as to be expected in the world’s most diverse county, the 125-member chorus will perform Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, and secular favorites in a variety of languages.

During the first half, Maestro David Close will conduct the society’s chorus and its orchestral arts ensemble through excerpts from “Messiah,” which George Frideric Handel composed in 1741. With text from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, this oratorio recalls the life of Jesus, starting with prediction of his virgin birth by Old Testament prophets and going through his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension.

The program’s second half will kick off with the English-Latin classic “Angels Carol” by soloist Geraldine McMillian, a soprano. Then Jerry Korobow, a cantor at Temple Am Echad of Lynbrook, will play his guitar and lead the chorus and orchestra in a lively rendition of “Ocho Kandelikas,” a Hanukkah song about hope and redemption with lyrics in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language that dates to the Middle Ages. The audience will be encouraged to participate.

The chorus and the audience will probably join in for traditional carols such as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “O Holy Night.” Then soloist John Easterlin, a tenor, will do his version of “Won’t You Come A-Christmasing.”

Founded in 1927, the Oratorio Society of Queens is the borough’s oldest performing cultural organization.

Photos by Dominick Totino Photography


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