The Department of Music at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) will present the Vesper Choir in their 60th annual performance of Handel’s Messiah on Sunday, December 8 at 3:00 p.m. in the John McLinn Ross Theater of the Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts Building. The event is free and open to the public.
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.
Dr. Michael J. Bates, Director of the Vesper Choir, will conduct the performance. He will be assisted by Mr. Andee Book, assistant Vesper Choir director and Instructor of Voice. This year’s performance will feature several changes. Our usual performance, the 1st Sunday in December, had to be changed because that Sunday comes during the Thanksgiving weekend and students will be away on holiday. Therefore, the date was changed to the 2nd Sunday, December 8th. Another change was brought about because the Band is performing that weekend in Houston, causing Mr. John Graham, Jr., who usually plays a major role as assistant conductor, and the Band’s wind players to not be available. Though the Band will be away, fortunately, they are able to utilize the talent of former members of the band, both music majors and students from other academic disciplines.
Special guest tenor soloist will be Mr. Leon Walker, an alumnus of the university and Vesper Choir from Kansas City, MO. In addition to guest string players, the department is pleased to welcome Mr. Byron Gregory, guest Clarinetist. A former member of the Music department faculty, Mr. Gregory has distinguished himself not only as a musician/ performer, but also as a composer, author, visual artist and teacher. Other guests include Ms. Donna Lee-Thomas, guest Flautist and Music Department graduate who is an instrumental music teacher at Southeast Jr. High. Guest pianist will be Pine Bluff native Ms. Julia Buckingham, a graduate of the University of Arkansas at and Vesper Choir accompanist. Mr. LeManuel Williams, a senior from Dallas, TX, will be the featured trumpet soloist.
This year’s performance will be dedicated to the memories of two strong Vesper Choir and University supporters: Mrs. Bobbi Hodge, a noted educator and supporter of the arts in the Pine Bluff community and Mr. 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.