On Dec. 6 and 7, the Calvin Oratorio Society presented its traditional Christmas season performance of Handel’s Messiah for the 100th time. Thousands of community members have taken the stage over the past century. Sean Ivory sang in the choir as a student in the early 1990s. Since 2013, he’s worn the conductor’s hat, serving as the society’s seventh director.

“It’s really thrilling. When I came on board to take over the directorship, it [Messiah] became one of the favorite things I was doing,” said Ivory.

Members of the chorus span generations and all walks of life; some are professional musicians and music teachers. Ivory says the community that’s formed is as beautiful as the music.

“You have a lot of people who have sung in it for decades, and some for whom this is the first experience singing the Messiah,” said Ivory. “We do devotions every week; it’s become a time when various people will go up in front and give their own testimony, and it really is a beautiful time for everyone to get to know another chorus member a little more deeply and refocus on why we are all there.”