Everyday, someone in Aspen is lamenting the loss of something in this town. From La Cocina to Crossroads. Being able to park their horses on the street. The Eagles playing in the local bar. Putting their skis in line at Lift One and grabbing something to eat before it opened.
For more recent Aspen residents — meaning less than a decade — it gets old. Sure, there are things we already miss like the Cooper Street Pier (sorta), HBO Comedy Fest and the old buckets. But, we really like Aspen, too, and we don’t think it’s so bad the way it is. Maybe one day we’ll complain about the way things have really changed, but for now, we’re appreciating what we have, and thankful for the things that have stayed the same.
Like Ray Adams and his annual holiday concert featuring the Aspen Choral Society.
Adams has become an institution. Since 1977, the conductor has been putting on Handel’s “Messiah” to usher in the holidays. Every year. That same year, Jimmy Carter became President, the first Apple II computer went on sale and the World Trade Center was completed. A lot has changed, but the Aspen Choral Society’s production of “Messiah” has basically stayed the same.
At the time, Adams was a young buck conductor and a fresh Aspen Music Festival Conductor fellow. He teamed up with the Crystal River Orchestra, a small group of instrument-playing locals, and the Aspen Choral Society was born.
They performed “Messiah,” Handel’s best-known work which tells the story of Jesus Christ’s life. Written in 1741 and first performed in 1742, the piece details the incarnation, passion and resurrection of Christ. Though it was not created to be a piece of holiday music, it’s now one of the most popular choral performances in the Western world. Adams’ 35th year in the Roaring Fork Valley is testament to its popularity.
The German composer wrote the piece in English. It’s operatic in style, but is not carried by any one singer. In the valley, the Aspen Community Chorus and Glenwood Springs Community Chorus join forces to perform the nearly two-hour set, and it’s done in both towns as well. Locations have changed over the years, with the addition of Glenwood Springs only starting in 2000 — one year after ACS made its Harris Hall debut.
This year, they’ll perform at the First Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen, on Dec. 11 and 12, and Dec. 14 and 15 respectively.
ACS is a nonprofit which also puts on fall and spring concerts throughout the valley. But, the holiday concerts are a tradition, often leading to standing-room only crowds. Adams and his team will be back again this year, like an old friend or Little Annie’s, or the view from the top of Aspen Mountain.
Hallelujah to that.