The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Department of Music will present the UAPB Vesper Choir in the 64th annual presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” on Sunday, December 3. The free, public event will take place at 3:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Pine Bluff Convention Center, located One Convention Center Plaza in Pine Bluff. The Vesper Choir will be assisted by members of the UAPB Concert Bands and Wind Symphony along with guest string and woodwind players from the Central Arkansas and Memphis areas. This annual event marks the official beginning of the Christmas celebration on UAPB’s campus.
Dr. Michael J. Bates, Director of the Vesper Choir, will conduct the performance. The Assistant Conductor is John Graham, Jr., UAPB Director of Bands. Andee Book, Voice Instructor and Assistant Director of the Vesper Choir, and Jerron Liddell, Music Assistant, have assisted in the preparation of the Vesper Choir for this performance.
This performance will also commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UAPB Vesper Choir. The ensemble was started in 1947 by Professor Ariel “Pops” Lovelace, who was also chairperson of the AM&N Music Department at that time. The contribution to the growth of the Vesper Choir by Professor Shelton J. McGee will also be celebrated. Professor McGee, who conducted the Vesper Choir nearly 50 years, brought the ensemble to greater prominence and visibility across the country. The contribution of Dr. Michael J. Bates, current director of the Vesper Choir, will also be highlighted. Under his direction, the Vesper Choir has attained international recognition from performance tours to Italy and Spain, appearances on the internet and performances at prestigious venues across the country.
Guest alumni soloists will be Robin Tisdale, soprano, Pine Bluff; Leon Walker, tenor, Kansas City, MO; and Duane Jackson, bass, choral teacher in the Pine Bluff School District. Student soloists will feature sopranos: Ya’Shontae Joyner-Holt of Moscow, TN, Mary Rowe of Dermott, AR, Kennedi Brown of Monticello; altos–Robin Roberts, of Memphis, TN, and Wantara Tomlin, from Tulsa, OK; Keonte Bishop, tenor, from Milwaukee, WI; Maleek Ware, Baritone, Pine Bluff, Gregory White, Baritone, from Kansas City, MO, and Jamaal Courtney, Baritone, from Pine Bluff. Trumpet Professor Demar Woods will be the featured trumpet soloist. Members of the orchestra include: Judy Warner, adjunct instructor in the UAPB Music Department; Donna Lee-Thomas, alumna and music instructor in the Pine Bluff School District, and Tim Clark, alumnus and music instructor in the St. Louis School District.
For more information about the event, please call the Department of Music at (870) 575-7001.