Chehalis Members Sing Along to Messiah

February 11, 2016 | Earlene Wohlers

The first Chehalis Church Messiah Sing Along was in 1996, but it really began years earlier and far away.

Helgi Heidar, born and raised in Iceland, was introduced to music at an early age by his organist/composer father. Heidar’s musical talents were dormant as a young boy. Even though he went to choir practice regularly with his father, Heidar would get noticeably weary as he waited for it to end. This attitude was not lost on his father.

At about age 16, Heidar told his father he wanted to play the violin. His father admonished him not to do so because he “wouldn’t do well.” It is quite possible that Heidar’s violin skills and strong love of music developed just to show his father he was wrong.

Fast forward several years to when Heidar and wife, Drusilla, moved to Chehalis. They enjoyed the community Christmas performance of Handel’s Messiah. At that time, two different high schools hosted the Messiah on alternate weekend days. A large choir and orchestra performed each year, but when the Presbyterian minister, who was the driving force behind the event, moved, the Messiah was discontinued.

The Heidars did not forget the thrill of the Christmas oratorio. When the Chehalis Church congregation moved into their new church in 1996, the Heidars, along with others in the congregation, wanted to once again bring the gift of Handel’s Messiah to the community. It was revived that Christmas as the Messiah Sing Along and has been performed every year since, with the exception of 2007, when the “big flood” usurped all events and activities.

This past December’s first Saturday once again found the church full of guests for this popular community event. For many, attending the Messiah Sing Along is when their Christmas season begins. The choir and orchestra consisted of performers from a variety of local churches. Many, including Auburn Adventist Academy students, came a far distance to participate. Carolyn Vian of St. Mary’s College in Olympia directed the event from 1996 to 2011. Now David Judd, a longtime community musician, brings Handel’s 1741 oratorio alive with his baton.

And Helgi Heidar? The violin still has a place under his chin each year. His love of the instrument is also shining brightly in his granddaughters. His father would be proud.