“My predecessors never talked about having done it here,” he wrote in an email.
But he can say it’s the first time in the 28 years he’s been the choir’s director.
Technically it’s not the entire composition, just Part I, the movement that deals with the Nativity, which is traditionally performed at Christmastime with the famous “Hallelujah chorus” added on, a tradition the Roanoke College Choir will keep.
Even incomplete, “it’s a tremendous masterpiece that our kids can sing for the rest of their lives,” he wrote.
Why now? One reason is that it gives Sandborg and his students a chance to work with Steven White, the former Opera Roanoke artistic director who’s now conducting for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
“I knew that our students would be enriched by the experience; me too!” he wrote. “While probably enjoying a break from me, I know they will grow as singers, musicians and human beings while working on a masterpiece with someone who has conducted many of the greatest musicians in the world.”