Ursinus to Present Handel’s “Messiah” for 80th Time

The Ursinus College Choir and Meistersingers will perform the winter tradition in historic Bomberger Auditorium Dec. 2-3.

George Frideric Handel’s oratorio is conducted by John French, the William F. Heefner Professor of Music at Ursinus.

Performances are Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3 at 2:30 p.m.

Along with the college choir and Meistersingers, performers include college organist Alan Morrison; soloists Leslie Johnson (soprano), Robert O’Neil (countertenor), Kenneth Garner (tenor) and Reginald Pindell (bass); Mark Huxsoll (trumpet); and French (harpsichord).

Messiah is Handel’s most famous piece and when he conducted the piece, he often added different variances, which French is continuing in the Ursinus performance. Handel originally composed the piece for the theater and the variances help create a theatrical nature during the performances, French says.

Handel’s Messiah has been a tradition at Ursinus since 1937 when music professor William Philip conducted the Meistersingers’ first performance. French continued the tradition because the Messiah performance was one of only two yearly music performances. Now, Handel’s Messiah is one of the longest running traditions at Ursinus.

French has conducted Handel’s Messiah for 39 years at Ursinus. The accomplished music scholar and performer has received Ursinus’s Laughlin Professional Achievement Award and Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in recognition of his professional and scholarly accomplishments. 

French is also the organist-choirmaster for the Church of the Holy Trinity on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia and was the associate conductor of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and must be purchased online before the show at  For more information, call the box office at (610) 409-3030. —By Taylor Manferdini ’13