The Oratorio Chorale, directed by Emily Isaacson, opened its 44th season November 4 and 5 in Portland and Brunswick, Maine, in a contemporary take on Handel’s best-known work, Messiah, an enduring part of the choral repertoire since the 1750s. Messiah was followed by the Chorale’s annual holiday concert, “Sing We Noël,” on Friday, December 15 and 16.

February 3 and 4 brought Gabriel Fauré’s classic Requiem and contemporary Oregon-based composer Robert Kyr’s The Cloud of Unknowing to audiences in Brunswick and Portland. The DaPonte String Quartet formed the core of a small orchestra. Soloists were GRAMMY-winning soprano Estelí Gomez and Austin-Critic Circle award winner baritone David Farwig. Composer Robert Kyr was in residence with the Chorale for the concerts and led a Q&A discussion with audiences after each performance.  (For a review of the concert, see “Chorale program aims to soothe with song,” Portland Press Herald.)

Coming next: Concerts April 21 and 22 will feature the Chorale’s women’s chorus, Sweetest in the Gale, in “Then Is Now,” a program that explores how living composers have engaged traditional, fol, or historical music and translated it to a modern voice. The final program of the season, Meditation through Music, takes place May 11 and 12 and features the music of Bach, Byrd, Purcell, and Rachmaninoff as well as Stephen Paulus, Eric Whitacre, and Sarah Hopkins.

Read more about the season here.