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Tucson Symphony celebrates with holiday performances of Handel's 'Messiah"

The Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will perform George Frideric Handel's pulse-pounding masterpiece "Messiah," including the joyful Hallelujah Chorus, this weekend.

Bruce Chamberlain will conduct the orchestra, chorus and four soloists in this magnificent choral work. Last year's performances sold out, symphony representatives said.

Performances will be Saturday, Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. at Catalina Foothills High School, 4300 E. Sunrise Dr.

Bruce Chamberlain retired as Director of Choral Activities and Associate Director of the Fred Fox School of Music in May 2018. He is the founding Director of the TSO Chorus, bringing to this position 40 years of professional experience.Chamberlain has appeared with the symphony orchestras of St. Petersburg (Russia), San Antonio (Texas), Imperial Symphony Orchestra (Florida), Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic, Czech Virtuosi Orchestra (Brno), Budapest Chamber Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, New England Symphonic Ensemble and the New York City Chamber Orchestra.

A summa cum laude graduate of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Chamberlain has conducted Messiah across the country more than 25 times. The Tucson performance are special because he will be joined onstage by his family: his wife Peggy is an alto in the chorus; his daughter Ellen and son, Robert are musicians with the TSO.

The TSO's performances of Messiah will feature: Kathryn Mueller, soprano, Sarah Barber, alto, RichardTrey Smagur, tenor and Troy Cook, baritone.

  • Grammy winner Kathryn Mueller has appeared with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Pacific Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and Eastern Music Festival. A vocal fellow at the Carmel Bach Festival she was a soloist on Seraphic Fire's best-selling Monteverdi Vespers of 1610.
  • Sarah Barber appears regularly on operatic and concert stages across North America. Opera News lauded her as a "rich voiced, imaginative artist" and a "major find." Barber holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Northern Iowa.
  • A current member of the Houston Grand Opera studio, Richard Trey Smagurwas a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2017. He made several significant debuts this summer, including Wolf Trap Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra and at the Aspen Music Festival and School.
  • Troy Cook began his 2018-19 season singing Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera Philadelphia, and returns there in the spring to sing Marcello in La bohème. He also appears with Minnesota Opera and Austin Opera to reprise the role of Father Palmer in Silent Night. He finishes the season with Central City Opera as Sharpless in Madame Butterfly.

"Messiah" is Handel's most popular work and one of the most beloved masterpieces of the choral repertoire. The work features inspiring arias, sinfonias and choruses. Handel keenly sensed the mass appeal of staging familiar Biblical tales. He crafted "Messiah" for operatic forces—choir, orchestra and soloists—but dispensed with the costlier elements of theatrical productions, such as sets and costumes. Its form is a dramatic oratorio, combining elements of Italian opera with the German Passions. The chorus plays a pivotal role in telling the story, whose text was compiled from the King James Version of the Old and New Testaments.

Tickets to Handel's Messiah are $45 to $55. Tickets for children under 18 are 50 percemt off. They are available online at www.tucsonsymphony.org, at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Box Office or by phone at (520) 882-8585.

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