By Shelley Koppel
MELBOURNE - A fixture of the local choral scene is returning to the Brevard Community Chorus after a year's sabbatical.
Robert Lamb, professor of music and chair of the department of fine and performing arts at Brevard Community College and conductor of the Brevard Community Chorus, is getting ready to hold auditions in September for the latter ensemble's Dec. 8 holiday concert, featuring Handel's "Messiah."
Mr. Lamb, who earned a doctorate of musical arts in choral conducting from the University of Cincinnati, is also director of traditional music at Suntree United Methodist Church, where he conducts both the adult handbell choir and the chancel choir. He is also a singer, performing with Brevard County's only semi-professional chorus, the Indialantic Chamber Singers.
The conductor spoke recently about his return after a year's absence and about Handel's "Messiah."
"I'm excited to return," he said. "I was still teaching, but I took a year off from the chorus to refresh. I missed the folks, the relationships, the camaraderie. I missed my weekly fix of seeing my friends."
While planning a holiday concert in September may seem odd, the arts have a schedule of their own because of auditions and rehearsal time.
"In the music world, we get to experience our holidays way ahead," he said.
The group is looking for singers, but doesn't have a set number of vacancies.
"Because we are a community chorus, we can take as many as are qualified," the conductor said. "We always especially like to see men audition. Basses and tenors are underrepresented.
"We are also always interested in meeting people who are new to our community and are looking for a creative outlet and way to meet new friends in a small group where, if you're absent, your absence is noticed."
The group rehearses on Tuesday nights from 7-9 p.m. at the Melbourne campus of Brevard Community College. As the performance nears, there will be several extra rehearsals with members of the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, which will perform with the chorus.
In addition to the "Messiah" in December, the chorus will present Mendelssohn's "Elijah" in the spring with the Brevard Chorale. There will be 150 singers and professional soloists.
"The 'Messiah' and 'Elijah' are masterworks, among the top 10 choral works of the Western canon," Mr. Lamb said. "They are pieces I haven't conducted in a few years. They are masterworks for a reason and deserve to be revisited."
The group is also thinking about travel for the summer of 2013. In 2011, members of the group traveled to Greece; and in 2012, they performed at Carnegie Hall.
"For the summer of 2013, it (may be) time for another big European excursion," Mr. Lamb said. "We're looking at Greece again or Western Europe. We're looking at Canada. They are all options."
The Brevard Community Chorus will begin rehearsing for its holiday concert on Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. in Room 160, Building 9, on the Melbourne campus of Brevard Community College on Wickham Road.
Auditions will be held over several weeks following the first rehearsal. Past singing experience is required and the ability to read music proficiently is requested.
Music will be issued prior to the start of the rehearsals on Sept. 3.
For more information, call (321) 433-7629.
The Brevard Community Chorus presents the "Messiah" on Dec. 8 at the King Center, 3865 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20 general admission and $15 for students and seniors.
Contact the box office at (321) 242-2219.