By Alfreda Burke, Soprano Soloist

Where do I begin sharing my Too Hot to Handel experience?!  You have a beloved, often-performed original score inspired by God, masterfully composed  in 24 days by George Frideric Handel in 1741, Messiah; powerful scriptural text, diverse musical genres – a hybrid of classical, jazz, blues, gospel, rock, funk, fusion; multi-cultures and ages; talented and skilled musicians represented in the Too Hot orchestra, jazz combo, choir (prepared by Bill Fraher), soli Rodrick Dixon, Karen Marie Richardson, myself; Alvin Waddles on piano and Suzanne Mallare Acton on the podium.  Don’t forget the light and sound technicians, stage manager and crew behind-the-scenes; produced by visionary Executive Director Brett Batterson, supported by Board Chair, Mel Katten and Auditorium Theatre Board, brass and staff; generous donors, corporate sponsorship, Friends and Ambassadors of THTH; student and educational outreach; press and media; and the electric energy exchanged between our wonderful audiences and the stage!  We affectionately call it Handel’s Messiah“on steroids”, not your grandfather’s or grandmother’s Messiah!  There’s an exuberant spirit in the atmosphere when all of these components come together!
My journey includes a lot of Roosevelt University and Auditorium Theatre history; a double alumna of RU and an RU CCPA Advisory Board Member.  A body of work from Symphony Center, Carnegie Hall to operatic, concert and musical theater stages in North America and Europe; Show Boat directed by Harold Prince, in the beautiful gold leafed walls of Auditorium Theatre; as well as Prague PBS Special, Hallelujah Broadwaylive concert, duo concert, Songs of a Dream and Too Hot to Handel.  The journey also includes work in education from Evanston-Skokie Dist. 65 to Wheaton College Conservatory to masterclasses and artist residencies today.  I was raised a pastor’s daughter in the Baptist to Mennonite church, playing Hammond organ and piano; singing hymns, anthems, spirituals, belting out traditional and contemporary gospel.  (…with many diverse musical memories made at Lindblom Technical HS!)  My parents ignited the musical flame within me.  My Dad played trombone in the Drake University Band, Army-Air Force Band, Thad Jones Band and my Mom sang in the renowned Rust College a cappella choir.  So, my sister and I developed an appreciation for an eclectic mix of music growing up!  Roberta Martin, gospel composer/singer/arranger, was my godmother.  Singing Too Hot to Handelincorporates all of my musical experiences – another reason why I love singing it!
Too Hot to Handel was commissioned by Marin Alsop (Baltimore Symphony) in 1993; with co-arrangers, Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson.  I’ve sung this piece for eleven years in Detroit and 2013 makes the eighth year here in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.  It has been a labor of love for me, the highlight beginning each year; pure worship and ministry.  Many moments are emotional because the message remains moving, meaningful and relevant.  Too Hotto Handel depicts the birth, life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah; Emmanuel, God with us.  My role proclaims the good news that the Angel of the Lord delivered; narration, prophetic renderings (from Isaiah, Zechariah, I Corinthians) of what was and is to come.  This very unique piece has something for everyone; offering its audiences a powerful, inspiring experience unlike any other piece!  It feels new each time we hear the overture; the rich, warm texture of instruments fill the air; the beautiful melodies and counter melodies saturate your being; and we stand and open our mouths.  It’s so much bigger than all of us and our efforts, contributions.  Yet, it never fails to bring us all together.  I have countless favorite moments in the piece.  How perfect and appropriate that it is scheduled annually to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; one who had a dream, was a Gospel Minister, preached a message of  peace, unity, inclusiveness, non-violence and was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.  The audience is encouraged to clap, sing, shout, stand, dance – participate as the Spirit leads!  We hope that you will be there on January 19thand 20th to share in this wonderful event, to make it a tradition for you, family, friends and neighbors!  You don’t leave the same way that you come – you’re impacted, transported!  “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes!”   – Psalm 118:23

Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah

Venue: Auditorium Theatre
Dates: Saturday, January 19 – Sunday, January 20, 2013
Times: Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 3:00 pm
Price: $74-$30
Honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through Handel’s classicalMessiah, the Auditorium welcomes backToo Hot for its 8th year. Too Hot packs the stage with more than 200 musicians, including some famous Chicago jazz favorites. They are joined by soloists Alfreda Burke, Rodrick Dixon and Karen Marie Richardson, as well as the city-wideToo Hot choir to create the jazziest Messiahyet.
Box Office: 50 E. Congress Pkwy. | Groups of 10+ 312.341.2357