A sixty-five voice chorus, ten area soloists, and an orchestra of 20 accomplished professional musicians will present the 37th annual community performance of Handel’s “Messiah” on Sunday, December 7, at 7:30 p.m. in St. John United Church of Christ. The candle-lit performance of this Christmas classic has provided an inspirational opportunity for area residents to begin their holiday season for the past thirty-seven years.
The performance began with a Defiance College ensemble that invited area singers to participate in the singing of the Christmas section. Over the years, additional movements of the large work were added and the performances were accompanied by Carolyn Small, organist for St. John United Church of Christ, in the choir loft of that sanctuary. From an original group of about thirty singers, the performance swelled to the present group of over sixty singers. To accommodate the larger ensemble, and to do away with the need for the audience to turn to see the singers, the performance was moved to the front of the sanctuary. In recognition of the twenty-fifth performance, the accompaniment was changed to orchestra, with Carolyn Small now playing harpsichord. For the past twelve years, the orchestra has consisted of strings from the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. For several years, a Toledo trumpet player, Lori Bitz, has been featured in the festive choruses of the work as well as the bass aria, “The Trumpet Shall Sound.”
This year’s ensemble will perform the entire Christmas section of the work, including the most well-known and beloved Christmas scriptures in their King James versions, as well as many of the pieces from the later sections of the work. Soloists include: sopranos, Anne Clark, and Susi Blank of Defiance, Linda Young of Holgate, and Shellee Murcko of Napoleon; Contraltos, Marie Bungard of Bryan, and Debra Guilford and Kate Schultz Smolik of Defiance; tenors, Don Knueve and Randal Schroeder of Defiance; and bass, Tim Bruno of Bowling Green. The orchestra includes members of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra as well as Defiance area players, the harpsichordist and accompanist is Music Professor Emeritus Carolyn Small, and the conductor is Dr. Richard Stroede, Dean Emeritus of Defiance College.
The performance is supported in part by an endowment established by Lieutenant Colonel Ann Tennent established an endowed fund at her death to support the enrichment of students’ lives with music. Ann Tennent completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Defiance College after retiring from a career as a U.S. Army nurse. There is no admission charge to this family holiday event and a free-will offering will be taken. Those wishing to make additional contributions to this performance may mail a check payable to Defiance College, to Richard Stroede, Dean Emeritus, Defiance College, 701 N. Clinton St., Defiance OH 43512.
November 18, 2008