Friday, November 7, 2014

Handel's Messiah in Omaha




Handel’s Messiah
After 45 Years, Voices of Omaha Is Growing Younger

OMAHA, Neb. – November 3, 2014 – After 45 years of annual presentations of Handel’s Messiah, Voices of Omaha seems to be 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. Thirty-seven area high school-age students and four college-age youth are participating in the 200-voice chorus and 30-member orchestra. Voices of Omaha is currently in rehearsal for its 46th annual performance of Handel’s Messiah, Sunday, November 23, at 3:00 p.m. at the Holland Performing Arts Center.
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, in part, by the Nebraska Arts Council/Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation, Whitmore Charitable Trust, and a substantial anonymous gift.


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 Handel’s Messiah 
After 45 Years, Voices of Omaha Is Growing Younger 
OMAHA, Neb. – November 3, 2014 – After 45 years of annual presentations of Handel’s Messiah, Voices of Omaha seems to be 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. Thirty-seven area high school-age students and four college-age youth are participating in the 200-voice chorus and 30-member orchestra. Voices of Omaha is currently in rehearsal for its 46th annual performance of Handel’s Messiah, Sunday, November 23, at 3:00 p.m. at the Holland Performing Arts Center. 
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, in part, by the Nebraska Arts Council/Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation, Whitmore Charitable Trust, and a substantial anonymous gift.   
High school-age public/private school participants pictured above are: 
Josephine Albers (home school) 
William Albers (home school) 
Kayleigh Baker (Millard North) 
Madison Barben (Millard North) 
Jd Benalaya (Bellevue East) 
Eliajah Bennett (Abraham Lincoln 
Karin Berg (Concordia) 
Katie Besse (Ralston) 
Andrea Brantley (Papillion-La Vista) 
Kimberly Carden (home school) 
Marcelina Delgado (Duschene Academy) 
Annie Donahoe (Duschene Academy) 
Melina Dye (Millard South) 
Rachel Fettinger (Bellevue East) 
Molly George (home school) 
Emily Gillespie (Central) 
Julia Gollobit (Duschene Academy) 
Hannah Good (home school) 
James Good (home school) 
Alexandra Hug (Duschene Academy) 
Jenny Hula (home school) 
Taylor Mersch (home school) 
Terryn Mersch (home school) 
Elisabeth Methe (home school) 
Marisa Meyer (Northwest) 
Eliza Newkirk (home school) 
Adryanna O’Keefe (home school) 
Nachia Olsen (Westside) 
Aaron Pfortmiller (Cornerstone Christian) 
Katy Pratt (Burke) 
Samuel Pratt (Burke) 
Grace Safranek (home school) 
Hannah Safranek (home school) 
Rose Safranek (home school) 
Elise Siffring (Brownell-Talbot) 
Lindsey Stalheim (home school) 
Sarah Stoltenberg (Bellevue East) 
Messiah is an amazing piece of music,” says Molly George. “I look forward all year to performing with this chorus and orchestra in the Holland Center!” George, is the student musician representative on the organization’s board of directors. 
“Singing this music with this chorus in the fantastic Holland Center is an unbelievable experience,” says Eliajah Bennett of Abraham Lincoln High School. “This is my first 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.” 
Voices of Omaha actively seeks qualified young musicians to play in the orchestra. This year, four outstanding college players join the instrumentalists on stage. 
Drew Ritchie, a music education major at University of Nebraska – Lincoln, will play second-chair cello, next to his teacher and life-long mentor Margaret Lim. “Having a chance to play this work with an ensemble of this caliber is exciting for me,” says Ritchie. “I am proud to be playing with this organization which has such a long tradition of annual performances.” Ritchie is the son of Patty and Bill Ritchie; Patty is also playing in the orchestra. Ritchie is a 2011 graduate of Millard North High School.
Left to right: Joshua Kosberg, Micah Stoddard, Linnea Pierson 
The 2014 Messiah orchestra includes three players from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Bassist Micah Stoddard, played with this chamber orchestra while in high school at Millard West. Now in his third year as a music performance major at St. Olaf College, he is returning and bringing two of the college’s best bassoonists with him, Linnea Pierson from San Jose, Calif., and Joshua Kosberg of Wildwood, Ill. All three played in the 2013 orchestra. 
“When I asked Linnea and Josh if they would like to come with me to play Voices of Omaha’s Messiah again, they were eager to make the trip to Omaha,” says Stoddard. “The Holland Center has quite a reputation in the St. Olaf College music department.” St. Olaf’s choir, band and orchestra have all played in the Holland Performing Arts Center on separate tours in recent years and are considered to be among the best collegiate music ensembles in the country. 
“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!”
 
Voices of Omaha’s 46th annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah takes place Sunday, November 23, 2014, at 3:00 p.m. at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 12th and Douglas streets, Omaha. There is no admission charge; an offering is taken to assist with expenses. To make the performance as accessible as possible to all members of the community, the printed program and all announcements are in English and Spanish; the performance is audio described in English for people who have blindness and ASL interpreted for audience members who have deafness. The 2 . hour concert has one intermission and is recommended for audiences ages 6 and older. 
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 200-voice community chorus which gave its first performance of Handel’s Messiah on Dec. 14, 1969, with soloists and orchestra under the direction of Leota Sneed Strong. Since then, the choir has enjoyed the leadership of artistic directors: Thomas Brantigan, Michael Dryver, Z. Randall Stroope, Greg Zielke and Stanley E. Schmidt. 
The 1969 concert was a free gift to the community with no admission charge – a tradition which continues to this day. To offset the substantial expense of hiring the orchestra and soloists and renting the venue, the members pay dues, hold fundraisers, and even pay for the poinsettias on the stage. Additional support is provided through grants and gifts from public and private sources. A free-will offering is taken to assist with expenses. Voices of Omaha is a member of Chorus America, Nebraskans for the Arts, and Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. 

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