Faith & Spirituality

November 30, 2012

'Too Hot to Handel' sizzles

PLATTSBURGH — Lightning may not strike twice in the same place, but Handel was an exception last summer.

The fallout is “Too Hot To Handel,” presented by the SUNY Plattsburgh Gospel Choir and Champlain Valley Voices at the choir’s Soulful Christmas 2012 concert Sunday.

“It was serendipitous,” said Dr. Dexter Criss, artistic director of the Gospel Choir. “Andrea (Ogle, music director) and I were talking about ‘Too Hot to Handel’ over the summer. I said this would be a great thing to do with Champlain Valley Voices.”

Two weeks later, Dr. Karen Becker, artistic director of Champlain Valley Voices, called Criss with the same idea.

“I said, Karen, you will not believe this, Andrea and I were talking about this. I told Karen the logistics would be crazy, but let’s just say yes and work out the details later.”


Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director Marin Alsop collaborated with Gary Anderson and Bob Christianson to create “Too Hot to Handel,” a jazzy and soulful interpretation of G.F. Handel’s classic “Messiah.”

“It’s almost like a collision of two worlds: gospel and the classical form of the oratorio,” Criss said. “‘Too Hot to Handel’ represents a marriage of the gospel and classical genres.

“The fact that our two choirs can come together to collaborate speaks well to what can happen when people decide to bring to the table the best of what they do. The Gospel Choir brings in the rhythmic and energetic part. CVV brings the disciplined choral approach.

“Having a skilled band that can handle the music, it will make for an amazing night. As I have been telling people, it’s a night too hot to handle.”

“Too Hot to Handel” selections include “And Suddenly,” “And He Shall Purify the Sons of Levi” and “Glory to God.”

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