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BEST BET

December 20, 1990|IRENE CHANG

James Fahringer remembers the time several years ago when the Claremont Symphony Orchestra led a sing-along of Handel's "Messiah," and the audience--composed mostly of amateurs--stumbled over a few bars.

"We stopped and had a rehearsal, right then and there," chuckled Fahringer, music director of the 90-member orchestra, now in its 38th season. "The most often-asked question is 'Are we better this year than last?' "

This year, Fahringer promises that whether you're a veteran chorus member or a newcomer, the annual tradition at Pomona College's Bridges Hall of Music will be an unforgettable experience. On Sunday, Fahringer and Associate Director Gary Iida will conduct the Christmas portion of "Messiah," plus the Hallelujah Chorus.

The event also will feature performances by four community soloists and pipe organ music.

"This is the orchestra saying to community, 'Thank you for your support,' " said Fahringer, who also plays viola for the orchestra. "It's a Christmas present to the Claremont community."

And for those who would rather listen than use their voices, there is seating in the balcony, Fahringer said. The main hall seats about 700, he said, and usually is full each year.

The sing-along begins at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free, and participants are encouraged to bring their own copy of the score. Otherwise, scores can be purchased at the door for $7.50 each.

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