Alumni, community members, students, staff and friends of the college filled the stands of Lynn Farell arena Saturday, accompanying a crowd of musicians who, for the 25th time, brought Handel’s Messiah to life at Hastings College.
“It’s just one of the richest traditions at the college and in the south central Nebraska community,” said Robin Koozer, chair of the music department, in an interview with KHAS-TV.
The production is a tradition shared by HC students past and present who sing alongside college alumni and local high school and community choirs, accompanied by the Hastings Symphony Orchestra.
Hayes Fuhr, chair of the music department, organized the first performance in 1928.
“The score of the Messiah is always thrilling and inspirational, but becomes particularly more so when sung by a choir of college age, since the voices in that period are admirably adapted to execute the passages that ornament many of the choruses,” Fuhr said in an interview in 1937, prior to the third performance of The Messiah.
120 people sang in the production in 1937 and the number increased to 226 in 1949. This year, more than 400 musicians and singers performed.
The music department is eager to bring back alums who are professional singers and who enjoyed music when they were students at HC, Koozer said.
Soloist and 1975 alum Charles Austin has performed Handel’s Messiah with the Washington Choral Society at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Soloists also included 1974 alumna Nancy Walker, Chair of the Vocal Studies Division at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2007 graduate Erin Mundus and Thomas Poole, Professor of Music Emeritus at University of Northern Colorado.