Vesper Choir to present ‘Messiah’ in rescheduled performance


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. Jan. 19 in the John McLinn Ross Theater of the Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts Building.

This annual event, originally scheduled for Dec. 8, 2013, was postponed because of inclement weather conditions. The Jan. 19 performance will ensure that the performance chain of 60 years will not be broken.

The 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 John Graham, director of bands, and Andee Book, assistant Vesper Choir director and instructor of voice. Special guest bass soloist will be alumnus Jacob Hurley of Kansas City, Mo., and the instrumental ensemble will feature current and former members of the band.

In addition to guest string players, the department is pleased to welcome Byron Gregory as guest clarinetist. Gregory is a former member of the UAPB Music Department faculty and has distinguished himself not only as a musician/performer, but also as a composer, author, visual artist and teacher. Other guest musicians include Donna Lee-Thomas, guest flautist, music department graduate and instrumental music teacher at Southeast Junior High; Pine Bluff native Julia Buckingham, Vesper Choir accompanist, guest pianist and graduate of the University of Arkansas; and LeManuel Williams, a senior from Dallas, as featured trumpet soloist.

Vesper Choir soloists will include Phyllissa Dunk, senior music major from Dallas; Naocea Evans, senior music major from Texarkana, Texas; Demarea Williams, junior biology major from Dallas; Chelsea Miller, junior communications major from Dallas; Robin Roberts, junior music major from Memphis, Tenn.; Steven Howard, senior computer science major from Camden; DaVante Thornton, sophomore music major from Hope; Brandon Black, senior sound recording technology major from Kansas City; and Kendall Babin, a December graduate from Houston, Texas, who majored in physical education.

This year’s performance will be dedicated to the memories of strong Vesper Choir and university supporters — Bobbi Hodge, a noted educator and supporter of the arts in the Pine Bluff community; Jimmy McKissic, world famous concert pianist and alumnus of the Vesper Choir and AM&N College (now UAPB); and the late Henry Moore, longtime UAPB professor of music who died recently.

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