Desperation is the source of inspiration, they say, and nowhere is this better illustrated than in the case of Handel's Messiah. In 1741, the 56-year-old composer was debt-ridden and in the throes of depression when he sat down and banged out what would become the world's most famous and beloved oratorio in just 24 days. Messiah (which is actually the correct name, no “the”) premiered in Dublin the following year, but it almost didn't get off the ground, because of production difficulties and the meddling of the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the one and only Jonathan Swift; he temporarily canceled the premiere while he haggled with Handel over the name of the work and the charitable distribution of the concert's proceeds. Thankfully, Messiah hit the ground running on April 13, 1742, and has been a favorite of audiences ever since. Another fave for not quite so many years is the Los Angeles Master Chorale's Messiah Sing-Along . Now in its 29th year, the event has become such a local tradition that the holidays wouldn't be so without it. If you missed last week's sing-along, you still have a chance for an encore performance, with Grant Gershon leading the chorale; soloists Karen Hogle Brown, Rose Beattie, Pablo Cora and Greg Geiger; and you, the audience.Walt Disney Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sun., Dec. 20, 7 p.m.; $24-$74, scores $10 at door. (213) 972-7282, lamc.org . –M.B.C.

Sat., Dec. 12, 2 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 20, 7 p.m., 2009

LA Weekly