Vesper Choir welcomes new assistant conductor, releases performance schedule

More than 60 students gather four times a week as members of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Vesper Choir. Directed by Michael Bates, interim chair for the Department of Music, these hard-working students will showcase their vocal prowess at several venues in the state of Arkansas and Mississippi.

The ensemble also welcomes Melissa Davis as its newly appointed assistant conductor.

“I am very pleased and honored to be a new faculty member assistant conductor of the internationally recognized [UAPB] Vesper Choir,” said Davis. “Teaching vocal music at UAPB this semester has already begun to be an enriching and rewarding experience. It has been my joy this semester to conduct a choir of such talented students such a rich choral tradition.”

This month will mark her first performance as assistant conductor with the choir. Davis received her bachelor of fine arts, with honors, in vocal performance at York University and her master of music in vocal performance and literature at the University of Illinois, where she is currently completing a doctor of musical arts degree. Selected for the Gregynog Festival Master Class Program in Wales in 2001, she is also the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. A dynamic concert soloist, Davis has played lead and principal roles in various opera productions in Canada and the United States, and has guest soloed with various choirs and orchestras throughout North America. Her artistry has also been recognized with frequent appearances on CBC Radio and Vision TV, Canada.

Organized in 1945 by Ariel M. Lovelace, the Vesper Choir is a service organization that has performed for significant campus and community events, schools, churches, and community organizations around the state of Arkansas and internationally. With a mission that is cultural, artistic and educational, the group has produced a long line of distinguished singers, performers and professionals in other work fields and academic including H. Beecher Hicks, prominent theologian, pastor and author; Smokie Norful, Grammy award-winning contemporary gospel artist and pastor; and James McKissic, internationally renowned concert pianist.

The ensemble will perform on the following dates:

Sunday — Damascus Missionary Baptist Church, 224 N. Cypress, at 4 p.m.

Oct. 12 — Mount Harmony Missionary Baptist Church, 812 E. Harding Ave., at 6 p.m.

Oct. 16 — Chancellor’s Fall Convocation at Kenneth L. Johnson, Sr. HPER complex

Oct. 21 — Full Counsel, 513 S. Cherry St., UAPB Day at 9:30 a.m.

Oct. 26 — Homecoming Assembly at 10 a.m. in the Kenneth L. Johnson, Sr. HPER complex

Nov. 3 — World Harvest Christian Church, 3302 S. Georgia St., at 3 p.m.

Nov. 11 — Coahoma Community College, Pinnacle Assembly Building, Clarksdale, Miss., at 6 p.m.

Nov. 29 — Arkansas Choral Society at 6 p.m., “Messiah”— First Pentecostal Church at North Little Rock

Dec. 2 — “Messiah” by George Frederic Handel at 3 p.m., Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts Center

For more information about the Vesper Choir, call the Department of Music at 870-575-7001.