The Ouachita Baptist University Concert Choir will perform George Frideric Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” on May 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jones Performing Arts Center on Ouachita’s campus. The 125-voice chorus is conducted by Dr. Gary Gerber, OBU director of choral activities.
Handel’s “Messiah” is widely considered the most popular and respected choral work among the musical public. After its first performance in 1742, it quickly gained acceptance as one of the greatest oratorios ever composed. It has been performed thousands of times by choruses around the world.
“Our students have enjoyed learning this music,” Gerber said. “This work is a dramatic piece in which the chorus portrays the gamut of emotions from the glory of the announcement of the birth of Christ to the suffering and scorn of the crucifixion of Christ to the final triumphant resurrection.”
The soloists for “Messiah” include current and former music faculty from Ouachita. Dr. Glenda Secrest, associate professor of music, will sing the soprano role; Cindy Fuller, lecturer in music, will sing the alto role; Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music, will sing the tenor role; and Dr. Iwao Asakura, assistant professor of music at Mississippi State University and former OBU music faculty, will sing the bass role.
“Being a part of this production is a great experience for a young singer because not only does it expand the singer’s repertoire, it also gives them the chance to learn and extensively practice the musical technique of that era,” said Sean Wilson, a junior vocal performance major at OBU.
Members of the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra and the OBU Wind Ensemble will accompany the chorus. The harpsichordist will be Glenda Aldridge, an OBU music faculty member and former choral director at Arkadelphia High School.
“We are excited about having an orchestra accompany the chorus and soloists,” Gerber said. “This is a work that needs the instrumental forces to bring it to life.”
Tickets for “Messiah” are $5 for adults and $3 for students with an ID. Tickets can be purchased by calling the OBU Box Office at 870-245-5563, or by going online to www.obu.edu/finearts.
By Genevieve Horton