Press Release

August 2, 2023

NEWS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Melissa Bunker (586) 219-0094

Rackham Choir Presents Its All-Star Holiday Favorite, ‘Too Hot To Handel,’ January 13, 2024 at the Detroit Opera House, Performed by an All-Star Roster of Jazz, Gospel and Classical Artists

DETROIT, (Aug. 2, 2023) – Beloved by audiences and performers alike, Rackham Choir is proud to present “Too Hot To Handel” at the Detroit Opera House on Jan. 13, 2024 for one spectacular performance. Performed by an all-star roster of jazz, gospel and classical artists, the performance represents Rackham Choir’s 20th Anniversary Production of the exuberant, uplifting jazz-gospel take on George Frideric Handel’s masterpiece, “The Messiah.”

Presented by Detroit’s oldest choir, Rackham Choir, the joyous program features fiery soloists Rodrick Dixon, tenor; Alfreda Burke, soprano; and Karen Marie Richardson, mezzo-soprano; The Too Hot to Handel Trio, featuring celebrated Detroit musicians Marion Hayden, bass; Alvin Waddles, piano; and Dave Taylor, drums; the Detroit Opera Orchestra and a majestic choir under the baton of Maestra Suzanne Mallare Acton.

The Jan. 13, 2024 performance marks the first staging of the jazz-gospel favorite after a 4-year absence from the Detroit stage. Rackham Choir first presented “Too Hot To Handel” in 2000. In attendance was Dr. David DiChiera, Artistic Director and founder of Michigan Opera Theatre who then brought it to the Opera House later that year. The jazz gospel Messiah features melodies and lyrics from Handel’s
Messiah, reinterpreted by Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson based on a concept by Marin Alsop.

This year’s 20th Anniversary Production will be presented during the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to extend the celebrations of the holiday season and bring some heat into a month known for its long cold spells in terms of weather and exciting entertainment.

“The music and its message represent a cross cultural musical celebration that builds community,” Emily Eichenhorn, President of Rackham Choir, said. “We believe a January performance of this spectacular holiday classic would be an ideal way to celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.”

“Too Hot To Handel” incorporates several scriptural messages of faith, hope and inclusion that echo Dr. King’s words of hope for peace, justice, and equality. Many of the passages are among those Dr. King utilized to share his vision and inspiration, expressed through jazz-gospel and classical musical styles.

There is a Student Dress Rehearsal on Friday, January 12 at 11 am. Students are provided a curriculum guide, “Affirming Our Identities Through Music,” in advance of the show. The guide explores the Black experience through the lens of the various genres included in Too Hot To Handel and the perspective of some of the principal performers as people of color (POC) in the classical music world. “Affirming Our Identities Through Music” is also a great springboard for further discussions during Black History Month in February.

Tickets for the Saturday, January 13 7:30 p.m. show are now available at a variety of prices at the Detroit Opera Box Office, and (313) 237-7464. Group Discounts are also available for Saturday night.

There are specially priced $10 student tickets specifically for the Friday, January 12 Student Dress Rehearsal and scholarships are available. For student reservations, contact Detroit Opera House Group Sales and (313) 309-8251.

Rackham Choir is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kresge Foundation. Too Hot To Handel is also supported by The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.