Defiance College to present 47th annual ‘Messiah’ performance

December 3, 2018

DEFIANCE, Ohio - The 47th annual Defiance College community performance of Handel’s “Messiah” will be at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, at St. John’s United Church of Christ, 950 Webster St. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

The college community choir is collaborating with the Defiance College Community Orchestra and members of the Toledo Symphony strings. The conductor is Lynn Bergman, and vocal soloists will be Don Knueve, Ron Jinks, Camille Lively, Shellee Murcko, Kate Smolik, Kevin Clark, Randy Schroeder, and Kristen Wendell. The choir will consist of the Defiance College Choral Union, DC and high school students, DC faculty and staff, and members of the community.

The musicians will perform the beloved Christmas portion and selected works from this masterpiece.

“Messiah” is one of the more popular pieces in the world’s choral literature. The work was composed in the summer of 1741 and first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742. Originally, it was intended to be performed in a secular theater during Lent, though it is now usually performed during Advent. “Messiah” is frequently presented in churches, as it will be for this event.

Locally, the much-loved work has an even longer, though non-consecutive, history beyond the 47 consecutive DC-sponsored performances. According to Barb Sedlock, lead librarian and coordinator of metadata and archives, the first mention of “Messiah” in the College archives dates back almost a century to the early 1920s. The earliest performances were given by the College Choral Society. In the 1930s, soloists from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music joined the chorus in DC’s Weston Hall.

In the 1950s, the performance was directed for many years by Professor George Arkebauer, who was most noted in DC history for directing the College chorus in singing at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration in 1953.

Sedlock reported that 1968 saw the first “Messiah” performance in the newly-built St. John’s United Church of Christ. The present-day series began in 1972, led by director Richard Stroede and organist Carolyn Small. Stroede actively recruited area instrumentalists and vocalists to join in the performances.

Defiance College, chartered in 1850, is an independent, liberal arts-based institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The College website is