Letters: Agape Choir, W. Virginia Steel, Hot Handel Linda Wertheimer reads from the listener e-mail bag. Topics include a story on a South African children's choir, a correction on where the steel girders in the new World Trade Center memorial were made and reaction to Marin Alsop's reworking of Handel's Messiah.

Letters: Agape Choir, W. Virginia Steel, Hot Handel

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Time now for your letters. Jocelyn Frank's story last week about Durbin, South Africa's Agape Children's Choir and their benefactors, the Geier family of New York, brought many letters like this one from Karen Gatschalk(ph) in Rockland, Maine.

As I heard the many layers of the story - the Agape Orphanage destroyed by fire, the Geire's inspired to take action by the passionate daughter they lost, the young Agape Choir leaving their country and working for months to earn enough money to rebuild their home, and then, most incredible of all, the choir choosing to give a percentage of their earnings to help ease the suffering of children affected by Hurricane Katrina - I was overcome. I am humbled and inspired by the children of the world. Thank you for taking time during the bustling holiday season to remind your listeners of the spirit and immense power of real giving.

Last week, we said that the steel columns raised for the new Freedom Tower at Ground Zero were made by steelworkers in Virginia. Not true, wrote Janet Birch in Wheeling, West Virginia. The steel beams being used in New York were actually made in West Virginia by workers at Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corporation, the Beech Bottom plant. Shame on NPR for not knowing that West Virginia broke from Virginia over a hundred years ago.

Last week, Scott Simon interviewed conductor Marin Alsop about an arrangement she commissioned, a jazz and gospel version of Handle's "Messiah." It hit a sour note with some of you. Terry Murphy in Glen Allen, Virginia said, Our family enjoyed the gospel "Messiah" and agreed that if my mother - a trained classical musician and very much a purist when it comes to sacred music - were not still living, she would be turning over in her grave. Luckily, she was out shopping and missed that opportunity.

And finally this from M.W. Wenner(ph) listening in Arizona. I'm sorry, but there are some things that should not be tampered with just for the sake of being creative or different. This appears to me to be part of the contemporary cult of manipulating classics just for the sake of novelty. What next, a hip-hop version of Beethoven's Ninth?

Well, we've looked, and so far there is no such version of Beethoven's Ninth, as far as we can tell. But we did dig up this old gem.


WERTHEIMER: Send us your letters. Go to our Website and click on Contact Us. Tell us where you're writing from and how to pronounce your name. Roll over Beethoven, this is NPR News.

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