Musician Justin Gonzalez wants classical music to be cool in 2017, especially during the holidays.
Gonzalez and South Fellini’s Tony Trov bring a pop up choir to East Passyunk on Saturday afternoon. Spontaneous choir members will serenade shoppers with Hallelujah Chorus from George Frideric Handel's “Messiah”. But this performance of the traditional number has an unconventional twist.
Gonzalez and Trov draw inspiration from Canadian sensation Choir! Choir! Choir! for this event. A simple concept has astounding results. Bring strangers together, rehearse a song once or twice and record the performance- in less than an hour. So, no pressure? Actually, no. The key purpose is to bring a variety of voices together. As the conductor, Gonzalez plans to embrace the unknown and unheard.
“We’ll have who knows how many people from who knows how many walks of life,” he says. “It’s that moment where we’ll come together while singing the same words. This is such a great way to start the month of December and the season of goodwill towards all.”
This particular piece from Handel’s “Messiah” is usually a notable number in holiday concerts. The Hallelujah Chorus traditionally features an energetic orchestra to amplify the singers’ harmonies. But nothing about this pop up performance is traditional. Gonzalez has a backing track of the orchestral parts to help singers follow along. The choir carries the narrative.
“There are so many stories we get to tell, within the music itself and when we perform,” Gonzalez says. “We put a little bit of ourselves into what we are singing. It isn’t just telling the surface of the story in code.”
Gonzalez grew up in South Philly and is well versed in its musical history. He expressed surprise that classical music doesn’t play more of a role in celebrating the region’s history, being the birthplace of iconic singers Marian Anderson and Mario Lanza.
“Classical music especially isn’t on the forefront as much as we would like in South Philly,” Gonzalez laughs. “It was a no brainer to do this at the Singing Fountain. We’re getting as many people as we can to make a joyful noise.”
Copies of the sheet music will be provided.
If you go:
Can you Händel It? Pop Up Choir
Saturday Dec. 2, 12 p.m.-1 p.m.
E. Passyunk Ave & S. 11th St.