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John French to Conduct 40th “Messiah” at Ursinus

The Ursinus College Choir and Meistersingers present the 81st annual performance of George Frideric Handel’s oratorio, a winter tradition in historic Bomberger Auditorium.

Performances are Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2:30 p.m.

An accomplished music scholar and performer, Professor of Music John French has received Ursinus’s Laughlin Professional Achievement Award and Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in recognition of his professional and scholarly accomplishments. He 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.

Messiah is Handel’s most famous piece and when he conducted the piece, he often added different versions, which French is continuing in the Ursinus performance. Handel originally composed the piece for the theater and the versions 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. As the college approaches its 150th anniversary, Messiah remains one of its longest traditions as it’s been performed for more than half of the life of the college.

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).

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