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Young Choir Prevails Despite Orchestra Nova’s Troubles

When the chamber group Orchestra Nova canceled its season this fall, it wasn’t only the audience who lost out. Smaller music groups scheduled to partner with the orchestra suddenly faced a gaping hole in their own season. KPBS arts reporter Angela Carone looks at how one choir regrouped to present a holiday classic.

The members of Sacra/Profana, a local 24-member choir that will perform Handel's Messiah this holiday season despite losing a partnership with the beleaguered Orchestra Nova.

Sacra/Profana has been around for only four years. They are a young and stylish choral group that sings classical and contemporary works: think Schoenberg AND The Smashing Pumpkins.

They were set to perform Handel’s Messiah this month with Orchestra Nova. But that was before the orchestra failed to resolve a labor dispute with the local musicians union, which led to the sudden resignation of Nova’s conductor and the cancellation of their entire season.

"It was really a big blow to us," says Krishan Oberoi, Sacra/Profana’s artistic director. "The issue of morale was the hardest thing for our singers. It was suddenly like, 'Ok, our next six concerts are canceled.'"

The good news: through some scrambling, the show will go on. Fifteen local, professional musicians have agreed to accompany Sacra/Profana in a stripped down version of Messiah. Oberoi says he sees a silver lining now that the choir has rallied. "We normally have to play Orchestra Nova’s interpretation of the piece. But we have our own vision of Messiah, which is slightly different. So we’re shaking things up a bit and I think it’s going to be very exciting."

Sacra/Profana’s first performance (it's free!) of holiday classics takes place this Sunday at 7pm at the Mission Hills United Methodist Church. The second performance is The Messiah. It's scheduled for Sunday, December 9th at 3pm at the Bob Burton Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets for the latter performance are $30.

Orchestra Nova has yet to announce a plan for its future.

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