Birmingham couple to perform 20th year together in Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Handel’s Messiah

Alabama Symphony
Roger and Linda James, photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

For two decades, Roger and Linda James have shared one very special activity  together as a family with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra (ASO).

They both perform  Handel’s Messiah with the symphony.

Roger is a violinist who has played with ASO since 1985.  Linda sings with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

This coming Friday they will both be onstage again with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra performing Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Magnificat at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center on December 15, 2017 at 7:30pm.

Alabama Symphony
A can’t miss concert

This past week, Bham Now talked with Roger and Linda about ASO’s upcoming performance and what it means to them to be part of a Magic City holiday tradition.

Gearing up for Christmas

According to Linda singing with the Chorus gets her ready for the holiday season.

“To me it really brings the Christmas holiday in full gear. It is such a gorgeously written piece of music (Handel’s Messiah).  It is always a delight to get to sing it, and it is  so well received by the audience too. So its a win-win.”

Over the years each performance is different

“We’ve had a lot of conductors show us their approach to it (Handel’s Messiah). I don’t think we’ve had a bad one yet, but we’ve had some really great ones,” stated Roger.

Having both the symphony and the “voice of the symphony” the ASO Chorus is  an important ingredient for a successful and extraordinary performance, according to Roger and Linda.

To have the full professional group – the orchestra and the chorus makes a difference.

“When they are that good (the choir), the orchestra can just fit in with them, which is what we are suppose to do, follow the chorus. It is one of the really good chorus’ (Alabama Symphony Orchestra Chorus) in town.”

And everyone loves the Messiah’s Hallelujah chorus

Of course, one of the most memorable moments during the performance of Handel’s Messiah is the famous Hallelujah chorus and the moment the entire audience stands.

Linda describes why it still brings chill bumps to her year after year.

“When the Messiah hallelujah chorus starts and you are up there singing and then everyone starts standing up, it always brings tears to your eyes because it is such a long tradition, the entire audience standing.  It goes back to the king who was tired of sitting and stood up – and now everyone stands for the hallelujah chorus. It’s very emotional when you are in the chorus, when the whole audience starts standing up.”

Roger added, Its been happening for hundreds of years and besides it really is a rousing chorus,” he chuckled.

Alabama Symphony
Photo courtesy of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra
As a bonus this year the Bach Magnificat

And Linda did not want us to forget the Bach Magnificat. “This is the first year they are doing the Bach Magnificat as well as the Messiah. That is new for the chorus which is exciting and beautiful. That excites me to have both pieces on the program,” she added.

The Messiah’s special connection between Roger and Linda

When we concluded our interview, we asked Roger and Linda why they have spent so many years together performing this one special concert.

Linda smiled broadly and said, “I like being in the chorus with Roger on the stage. I feel more connected to him than when I’m sitting in the audience listening to the orchestra.  It is fun to share that experience with him.”

With a twinkle in his eye, Roger said. “Same way.”

FullSizeRender 176 Birmingham couple to perform 20th year together in Alabama Symphony Orchestra's Handel's Messiah
Roger and Linda James, photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Join the James family, Maestro Carlos Izcaray and the 100+ voices of the ASO Chorus when they perform  Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Magnificat.

There’s only one performance on Friday, December 15th, 7:30 at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center.

This program is a special event of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-2018 Season. Tickets start at $39, with student prices available. Purchase tickets online at, in person at 1200 10th Ave. South, Birmingham, or call 205.975.2787.

Make it a family tradition today.

Sponsored by:

Alabama Symphony



Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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