November 19, 2007

Sing-Along Messiah concert set for Nov. 30

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Hallelujah, it's almost time for the Sing-Along Messiah concert at Southern Illinois University Carbondale – a first-time-ever event here but a beloved tradition for orchestras and symphonies from Chicago to Los Angeles to Boulder, Colo., to Arlington, Va., and sundry points in between.

The Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra offers up this holiday event at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Shryock Auditorium. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $6 for students of any age.

Here's how it will work. The symphony and Conductor Edward Benyas, professor of oboe and conducting at SIUC, will be in the pit. The three featured soloists – SIUC School of Music professors Jeanine Wagner and David Dillard and alumnus Randall Black – take the stage.

And the chorus –– that's the singing part of the audience – will sit generally by voice type.

Those who want to attend but don't care to sing may sit where they choose, but sections just for non-singing audience are in the balcony and near the back.

A limited number of musical scores for this Christmas portion of Handel's Messiah is for sale at Shryock Auditorium before the concert, but coming prepared with a score in hand is a good idea. Scores are also available at the 710 Bookstore.

The concert will last about one hour.

Wagner is the interim director of the School of Music and a professor of voice. She is a past winner of the Artist Presentation Society Award in St. Louis and was an international finalist in the Luciano Pavarotti Competition as well as a regional winner in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. An experienced soloist with various symphonies, Wagner's operatic career includes roles as The Queen of the Night in "Die Zauberflote" and Constanze in "Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail."

Dillard is an associate professor of voice and is the voice area coordinator. A baritone, Dillard also plays classical guitar. His passion is Lieder, or art songs, sometimes collected on a single theme. Dillard's performances include the "Carmina Burana" with the Fairbanks Symphony, appearances at The Bach Festival in Trujilo, Peru, The Round Top Festival and operatic roles in "Don Giovanni," "Le nozze di Figaro," "Candide," "The Crucible," and "Madama Butterfly," to name just a few.

Black is a Carbondale native and SIUC alum. Known for his eclectism, Black, a tenor, performed in "H. M. S. Pinafore," "Antigone," and the American premiere of "We Come to the River." Black's other performances include the Bach societies of Louisville, St. Louis and Miami, among others. A faculty member at Murray State University since 1986, Black also performed Beethoven with the Lexington Philharmonic, Verdi's "Requiem" with the Marshall University Chorus and Orchestra, and tenor solos in Handel's Messiah with SIUC.

Tickets are available online at, at the SIU Arena or Student Center ticket offices or by calling 618/453-2000. Tickets are also available at Shryock Auditorium the day of the performance.