Messiah, 'Winter Wonderland'
to serenade audiences this week

Three Gwinnett nonprofit groups will fill audiences' ears and hearts with the sound of music this week, from Handel to big band favorites. The Gwinnett Choral Guild and the BJ Chorale will host the annual Community Messiah Sing-a-long on Sunday. The following evening, Button Theatre will take its audience on the First Annual Winter Wonderland performance.

The annual Messiah sing-a-long will be held at the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church at 3 p.m. Sunday. Gwinnett Choral Artistic Director Phillip Shoultz will lead the singers and a string quartet as the voices of those attending, along with professional soloists, perform this favorite work created by Handel in 1741. (Ironically, it was not performed for the first time at Christmas but in April of 1742.) The church is located at 800 U.S. Highway 29 in Lawrenceville.

"We have this sing-a-long as our gift to the community as we begin the Advent season," said spokesperson Joyce Parks, who will also serve as organist for the event. "We hope to bring people of our community together for fellowship, and we would love to fill the sanctuary this year. We've been getting close to this mark in the past."

A few scores are available at the church, and participants are urged to bring their own if possible. Although the event is free, a love offering will be taken to help defray expenses.

Button Theatre's "Winter Wonderland - A Dessert Cabaret and Silent Auction" will be held in the Hudgens Center for the Arts Monday. The evening begins with a silent auction at 7 p.m. followed by the performance at 8 p.m. This production will feature singers Maura Carey Neill, Ben Neill, Jennifer Hendrickson and Charlie Bradshaw regaling the audience with festive tunes to the accompaniment of Paul Tate. The program will include "Santa Baby," "Baby It's Cold Outside," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," "We Three Kings," "I'll Be Home For Christmas," and "The Christmas Song" among many others.

Spokesperson Jennifer Hendrickson said, "It is a privilege to be singing with such talented musicians this holiday season. We all have great camaraderie and have known each other for some years. You'll leave with your toes tapping and your heart dancing."

Silent auction items include tickets to the Fox Theatre for "The Nutcracker" and "Tarzan the Musical," photography packages from Duluth's Barfield Legacy Photography, and season tickets to Button Theatre among other goodies.

For more information about the Winter Wonderland, visit www.buttontheatre.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail hcalmes@mindspring.com.