The Hong Kong Voices choir is kicking off the New Year with selections from George Frideric Handel's Messiah on Saturday at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Right, I know you're thinking: 'Isn't that a little late for Christmas?' Not according to conductor Ken Lam King-kei. 'The Messiah was never written for Christmas,' he explained. 'It was for Lent. Handel wrote it for the theatre, not church. At that time, you couldn't perform operas until after Easter, so composers got around that by writing oratorios about religious matters. And Messiah doesn't just deal with the birth of Christ, it's his whole story. That's what I'm trying to present.' Back in town just for the holidays, Lam recently started a doctoral programme at the Peabody Conservatory in Washington, DC. However, rather than talk about the prestigious conductors and musicians he's had the chance to study and work with in the US, Lam was far more excited about the prospects of one of his guest singers, soprano Yuki Ip. 'She's going to be singing with Jose Carreras later this month. She's performing with him in Beijing and Macau. It's at The Venetian casino, so it's just popular songs and arias, but she'll be doing four duets with him. In terms of local talent, she's as good as it gets.' The Hong Kong Voices concert starts at 7.30pm on Saturday. Tickets cost HK$100 from HK Ticketing.