‘The Passion’ involves scores of musicians at Christ Church of Oak Brook
The Chancel Choir of Christ Church of Oak Brook rehearses "The Passion," with organist Devon Hollingsworth March 14 for performances on Saturday and Sunday. | Kimberly Fornek—Sun-Times Media
‘The Passion’ performances
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday, March 23; 10:45 a.m. Palm Sunday, March 24
WHERE: Christ Church of Oak Brook, at 501 Oak Brook Road (31st Street and York Road)
CHILD CARE: will be provided.
Updated: April 22, 2013 10:48AM
OAK BROOK — Eighty people will raise their voices in song at Christ Church of Oak Brook this weekend to tell the story of Jesus’ last days.
The church’s 80-member chancel choir will perform “The Passion,” accompanied by a 35-piece orchestra.
“I like it because it’s a modern work, composed by Greg Nelson about seven years ago,” said Noelle Combs, director of classic worship and music. “It incorporates a lot of different styles of music that appeal to a diverse audience. And it’s incredibly emotional and very well written.”
The songs and music describe the events from Holy Thursday to Christ’s resurrection on Easter.
“The story gets told through Jesus and Mary Magdalene,” Combs said. “The choir sometimes sings the part of an angry mob and sometimes they’re a choir of angels.”
At a rehearsal March 14, Combs reminded the singers their facial expressions should change depending on the role they are playing.
“It’s not helpful to have your face buried in your score,” Combs said. “You have to tell the story.”
For the part describing Jesus’ arrest, trial and agony, “you should furrow your brow,” Combs said. “You are not fans of Jesus right now.”
And when the choir sings as angels, Combs coached, “be light! Have light coming out of your head.”
Choir member Ernest Neely of Indian Head Park said he enjoyed singing “The Passion,” because “it’s demanding.”
Over 11 years, Neely has been a minister of music after several different churches.
“It’s nice to be here and do demanding music,” he said, such as “Ride on King Jesus.”
“The range, and the power of the song and the power it portrays” make it challenging, Neely said.
Joyce Rodgers of Hinsdale said the talent needed for the composition is “way above” her level, but “it’s a learning experience. You need those challenges as you age. It helps keep you involved and motivated and prevents you from becoming senile.”
Mary Ann Gebhart, who sings alto in the choir is not nervous about the performances.
“I’ve been in the choir forever and ever,” said the Clarendon Hills resident. “I joined in 1972 and decided the choir was for me.”