Hometown Heroes - Lake Charles Messiah Chorus

80th performance this weekend
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 7:27 AM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A Lake Area Christmas tradition resumes this weekend on the campus of McNeese State University. Handel’s Messiah will be presented Sunday in F.G. Bulber Auditorium.

“We have 53 singers this year, which is a little bit smaller than usual,” said Colette Bulber Tanner, this year’s director. “We’ve had as many as 250 at times.”

Lake Charles Messiah director Colette Bulber Tanner says the pandemic and hurricanes took out last year’s performance of “Messiah”, but they’re back this year.

“I can remember literally being a toddler playing in the orchestra pit in the auditorium while the rehearsals were going on. I can remember sitting in the audience and listening and also singing along because I had been to all the rehearsals.”

Colette’s father, Francis J. Bulber, started the Messiah Chorus at McNeese in 1939. He died in 1992. What would he think of this weekend’s 80th performance in the auditorium that now bears his name?

“His first reaction would probably be, ‘by the greater grace of God.” That would be his first response. And then he would be humbled because he never felt himself worthy to conduct such an inspired piece.”

And one of Colette’s favorite stories involves a current Messiah Chorus member who missed one year because he was fighting overseas.

“Raymond Maylen, hearing the Lake Charles Messiah Chorus while sitting, waiting for battle in Vietnam on his 9 volt transistor radio. And dad having everybody in the chorus writing a letter to him that year.”

This year’s Messiah will be dedicated to the late Poddy Champeaux, a long time member of the chorus.

Handel’s Messiah will take place Sunday, December 5, 2021 in Bulber Auditorium. Admission is free.

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