Dates announced for Handel's Messiah presented by Voices of Omaha

Oct 26, 2016, 17:27 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Amanda Patrick, president

Handel’s Messiah
Voices of Omaha – 48 Years Young

OMAHA, Neb. (October 26, 2016) – After 48 years of annual presentations of Handel’s Messiah, Voices of Omaha is growing younger rather than older! The audience for this year’s Voices of Omaha performance of Handel’s Messiah will see many young performers on stage. 20 area high school-age students are participating in the 189-voice chorus and 26-member orchestra.

Voices of Omaha presents its 48th annual performance of Handel’s Messiah, Sunday, November 20, 3:00 p.m. at the Holland Performing Arts Center – free to the public, no tickets required. A voluntary offering is taken to help offset expenses. To make the performance as accessible as possible to all members of the community, the printed program and announcements are in English and Spanish; the performance is audio described in English for persons who have blindness, and ASL interpreted for audience members who have deafness. The 2 ½ hour concert has one intermission and is recommended for audiences age six and older.

Committed to nurturing musicians of all ages to assure an audience and chorus for the future, Voices of Omaha reaches out to area public and private school teachers, church music directors, Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association, and the Omaha Home Educators Network. All possible obstacles to participation are removed including waiving membership dues, and providing vocal scores and concert attire, if needed. Funding for the educational outreach initiative is provided by the Nebraska Arts Council/Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Gilbert M. and Marth H. Hitchcock Foundation, and a large anonymous gift.

High school-age public/private school participants include:
Josephine Albers (home school)
William Albers (home school)
Mary Aumen (home school)
Emma Barben (Millard North)
Madison Barben (Millard North)
Katie Besse (Ralston)
Tom Besse (Ralston)
Hannah Davis (Ashland-Greenwood)
Molly George (home school)
James Good (home school)
Emily Johnson (Papillion-La Vista South)
Anna Koch (home school)
Ellie Koch (home school)
Michelle Larson (Omaha North)
Annelise Mellender (home school)
Taylor Mersch (home school)
Marisa Meyer (Omaha Northwest)
Nathan Mitchell (Madonna and Roncalli)
Adryanna O’Keefe (home school)
Brianna Price (Millard West)

“Singing this music with this chorus in the fantastic Holland Center is an unbelievable experience,” says William Albers of Glenwood, Iowa. “This is my third year performing with them; I can’t wait to get on stage with the orchestra!”

Voices of Omaha’s alto section has a three-generation family group. Madison Barben from Millard North High School is singing with her mother, Kristin Barben, and her grandmother Diane Estes. “Messiah is a fantastic choral work,” says Madison Barben who joined the chorus for the 2013 performance. “My mother and grandmother wanted me to join them in the Voices of Omaha chorus for a long time and I’m glad I did! Singing with this chorus and orchestra is amazing, and I’m learning so much about Handel and the background of Messiah.”

“Seeing young people, singers and instrumentalists, excited about performing a Baroque masterpiece like Messiah is thrilling to me,” says Voices of Omaha artistic director Edward Hurd. “These talented young people breathe life into everything they do and their enthusiasm is contagious. Indeed, they are the serious choir and orchestra members of the future. It brings us great joy to fan the flames of their passion for fine music!”

About Voices of Omaha

The mission of Voices of Omaha is to present an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah without admission charge as a gift to the community. Voices of Omaha is committed to development of a diverse audience and chorus membership by maintaining relevance in the present, and nurturing musicians of all ages to assure an audience and chorus for the future.

Voices of Omaha is a 189-voice community chorus which gave its first performance of Handel’s Messiah on Dec. 14, 1969, with soloists and orchestra under the direction of the late Leota Sneed Strong. Since then, the choir has enjoyed the leadership of artistic directors: Thomas Brantigan, Michael Dryver, Z. Randall Stroope, Greg Zielke, Stanley E. Schmidt, and Edward B. Hurd.

The 1969 concert was a free gift to the community with no admission charge – a tradition which continues to this day. To offset the $30,000 required to hire the orchestra and soloists, rent the venue, and advertise the performance, chorus members pay dues, hold fundraisers, and even provide for the poinsettias on the stage. Substantial support is provided through grants and gifts from public and private sources. Voices of Omaha is a member of Chorus America, Nebraskans for the Arts, and Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.