Baroque chorale masterwork returns on Sat., December 7 and Sun., December 8, both at 4 pm in historic Allegheny West

The Calvary United Methodist Church Festival Choir joined by the Chancel Choir of First United Methodist Church of Shadyside

Tiffany meets Handel! 

Audiences will bask in George Frideric Handel's inspiring Messiah, surrounded by candlelight and magnificent Tiffany stained-glass masterpieces of Calvary United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh’s historic Allegheny West, 971 Beech Ave. at Allegheny, just a few blocks from Heinz Field (Pittsburgh 15233). 

For the 9th year, the Calvary United Methodist Church Festival Choir leads sing-along choruses. This year, the Chancel Choir of First United Methodist Church joins Calvary's choir as the two churches both celebrate 125th anniversaries. 

Messiah concerts on Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, December 8 begin at 4 pm, with doors open at 3:15 pm for audiences to take seats and view the Tiffany windows. After the concert series expanded to two events in 2018, the MESSIAH now features the largest choir ever to meet audience demand following sold-out events. Audiences members are invited to sing along on six of Handel’s choruses including the closing “Hallelujah”.

Music Director Brian Burns
“We are thrilled to offer our ninth annual program with two performances of Handel’s Messiah this year," says Brian Burns, Calvary’s music director and conductor. "The timeless qualities of Messiah are only enhanced by our spirit of community and the family-friendly manner in which we present this choral masterpiece.” 

Messiah soloists are Anna Singer, soprano, and Kara Cornell, mezzo soprano, Kirk Dougherty, tenor, and Matthew Hunt, baritone. 

Soprano Anna Singer
The concert features the Calvary Festival Choir, comprised of voices from the church’s own Renewal Choir joined by guest choir members from throughout the region. This year chamber orchestra expands to add woodwinds and additional strings along with returning brass, percussion (timpani), and keyboard. 

Calvary’s Music Director Brian Burns conducts the singers and a chamber orchestra. Guest organist David Bridge is featured at both the parlor and sanctuary’s historic 1985 Farrand & Votey pipe organ, which has been restored by Burns with additional improvements made since 2017.

Food for Northside Food Pantry:  Audience members are invited to bring one-pound non-perishable food donations and reusable tote bags for the Northside Food Pantry, an annual community outreach of Calvary UMC. A cookie reception for everyone follows the concert. These traditions continue since the first Messiah concert in 2011. 

Historic Setting
The restored sanctuary features some of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s most magnificent stained-glass windows and interior design. The 1895 landmark house of worship is acclaimed for its exterior French Gothic architecture and stained glass and interior design by the Tiffany Studio. Calvary is a handicap accessible building with designated parking near a ramped entrance. [Read more about the Calvary building below]

The concert is for all ages; kids 12 and under are admitted at no charge and children will receive an activity packet with information on music, Handel, and Messiah.  

Tickets are $18 for general admission. Students and seniors 62 and over, $12. Military service members, veterans and children 12 at no charge online or at the door. 

Scores are on sale for $15 may be purchased online with a limited number available at the door.

Tickets are on sale on the Calvary website with remaining seats on sale at the door. http://calvarypgh.com/music/messiah-tickets.php

For directions and parking details for lots near the church, visit http://www.calvarypgh.com or call 412-231-2007 on weekdays. Email CalvaryUMChurchPittsburgh@gmail.com.

Calvary is on Facebook and Twitter (@CalvaryPgh).

Renewal is indeed a theme as the choir presents its first major choral work since the 1960’s with a concert of favorite selections from the masterwork celebrating the prophecy and arrival of Christ on earth. The program is designed to both introduce music lovers of all ages to pieces from the first two parts of the sacred choral work while invited those who know and love the piece to join in on seven of the beloved choruses, including the timeless “Hallelujah!”, featuring the church's restored Farrand and Votey pipe organ.

Each of eight previous Messiah sing-along concerts has drawn a near-capacity audience since the first event in 2011. In 2018, 30 members of the Festival choir sang at Carnegie Hall in MESSIAH REFRESHED, produced by DCINY (Distinguished Concerts International New York). 

Calvary UMC was honored in October 2014 by the Northside Common Ministries for the congregation and Messiah audience members’ ongoing contributions to its Northside Food Pantry and other programs, which serves Northside residents and the homeless.

Calvary United Methodist Church has undergone major interior and exterior restoration over the past two decades—from the repaired and cleaned stained glass windows by Stained Glass Resources and the sanctuary also designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany’s studios. Three triptych sanctuary windows depict the Ascension and Resurrection, as well as the scenes from the book of Revelation in the Apocalypse window in the choir loft. 

Enhancements include fire and security systems, a handicap accessible ramp and entrance, and an elevator connecting the lower community room and main floor. Much of restoration has been led by Allegheny Historic Preservation Society and church and community members.

Calvary’s spaces and systems have been revived so that the building serves not only as an awe-inspiring setting for worship, weddings, and community events, but is a hub for dinners, meetings, arts events, and more. The church held its first service on Dec. 24, 1893 when the building’s chapel was completed with Christmas Eve services held ever since. 

Calvary United Methodist Church/Exterior
Today, public events include the annual Candlelight Christmas Eve service on December 24  (music at 7 pm. service at 7:30 pm). In addition, the church hosts the annual Allegheny West Victorian House Tour (December 13 and 14, 2019). Poets Corner Arts has presented arts events including Shakespeare's Birthday, First Day of Summer Tiffany celebration, and Poetry of Peace concerts around anniversaries of the September 11, 2001 attacks. 

On his composition, German-British composer George Frideric Handel exclaimed, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself.” Handel composed MESSIAH in 24 days in 1741 after friend Charles Jensen gave him text drawn from the King James Bible. Handel personally conducted more than 30 of the performances himself, many of them given as charitable benefits.

Handel’s MESSIAH has come to be a prominent representation of the Advent and Christmas season as well as Lent and Easter. Incorporating scriptural text from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, the full work takes audiences on a three-part spiritual journey from God’s prophecy, to the sacrifice of Christ, and finally to his glorification into Heaven. The Nativity, Passion, Resurrection and Ascension are depicted through the dramatic music and scriptural text.