Voices in Harmony director Steve Szalaj leads the Voices in Harmony Choir during a rehearsal this week at McHenry County College. (Josh Peckler -

From Carnegie Hall to Crystal Lake, area singers are proud to join their Voices in Harmony.

The Crystal Lake-based choir recently performed at Carnegie Hall and will present its annual “Sing-Along Messiah” 4 p.m. Sunday at the Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.

One of the community choir’s four main concerts throughout the year, the “Messiah” tells the story of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through music.

“It’s a well-loved piece of choral music for both participants as well as those listening,” said Steve Szalaj, artistic director for the choir.

Szalaj traveled with 18 members of the roughly 55-member choir to New York City to perform the day after Thanksgiving as part of the annual MidAmerica Productions at Carnegie Hall.

The group joined choirs from throughout the country, participating for the first time in a tour outside the Chicago area.

The ability to perform in Carnegie Hall, “a very historically internationally known theater and a place where performers of international renown have performed,” was an honor in itself, Szalaj said.

Along with that, the choir performed with the New England Symphonic ensemble under the direction of world-famous conductors John Rutter and Tim Sharp.

Sharp conducted the choir in a piece entitled, “Hodia,” that he also wrote. It is a piece the choir performed last year, Szalaj said, and that is one of the reasons Voices in Harmony was invited to participate.

“Just to be able to work with people of that caliber and to be able to work directly with a composer like that is a really terrific experience,” he said.

Made up of singers from McHenry County and beyond, the choir will perform Sunday along with the McHenry County College Choir to bring about 90 voices together at the Raue Center.

The performance not only creates a bigger presence on stage, but also gives community college students the chance to work with a major choir and be backed by a 25-piece orchestra, Szalaj said.

Along with projections of Timothy Botts calligraphy, the performance will feature soloists Kirsten Leslie (soprano), A.J. Wester (mezzo soprano), Chad Cygen (tenor), and Rick Ziebarth (bass baritone). Dr. Paige Lush will lead the audience.

All soloists are highly trained and have performed throughout country, but also have local connections as most of them grew up in the McHenry County area, Szalaj said.

“We’re very fortunate to bring this kind of quality to our performance,” he said. “We’ve always been very lucky to be able to get really good soloists.”

WHAT: Voices in Harmony: Sing-Along Messiah
WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9
WHERE: Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake
Ticket prices are $18/$15, and can be purchased through or through the Raue Center for the Arts Box Office at (815) 356-9212.
For more information on Voices in Harmony and the event's soloists Kirsten Leslie (soprano), A.J. Wester (mezzo soprano), Chad Cygen (tenor) and Rick Ziebarth (bass baritone), go to