Vesper Choir to present 60th annual performance of 'Messiah'

The Department of Music at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff will present the Vesper Choir in its 60th annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” at 3 p.m. Sunday in the John McLinn Ross Theater of the Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts Building.

The annual event that marks the official beginning of the Christmas celebration at UAPB, the Vesper Choir will be assisted by student musicians and guest professional string and woodwind performers. Michael J. Bates, director of the Vesper Choir, will conduct the performance. He will be assisted by Andee Book, assistant Vesper Choir director and instructor of voice.

A special guest tenor soloist will be Leon Walker, an alumnus of the university and Vesper Choir from Kansas City, Mo. In addition to guest string players, the department will welcome Byron Gregory, guest clarinetist. A former member of the music department faculty, Gregory has distinguished himself not only as a musician/ performer, but also as a composer, author, visual artist and teacher. Other guests include Donna Lee-Thomas, guest flautist and music department graduate who is an instrumental music teacher at Southeast Junior High School; guest pianist Julia Buckingham, a graduate of UAPB and Vesper Choir accompanist; and LeManuel Williams, a senior from Dallas, will be the featured trumpet soloist.

This year’s performance will be dedicated to the memories of two Vesper Choir and university supporters — the late Bobbi Hodge, a noted educator and supporter of the arts in the Pine Bluff community, and the late Jimmy McKissic, world famous concert pianist and alumnus of the Vesper Choir and of AM&N (now UAPB).

The performance is free and the public is cordially invited to attend. For more information about the event, call the Department of Music at 870-575-7001.