Home Entertainment Music Messiah at Bethesda set for December 18th

Messiah at Bethesda set for December 18th


The much anticipated George Frideric Handel’s Messiah presented by the Bethesda Chancel Choir (Rod Drews, Director – Laura Steingard, Harpsichord) and accompanied by the Nebraska Symphony Chamber Orchestra is coming to the Bethesda Mennonite Church on Sunday December 18, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

For those unfamiliar with this Christmas production we have included some background information and the official flyer for the event.  You can also find more information on their Facebook page here and on the web at http://www.telcoweb.net/bethesda/messiah.pdf.

Handel’s Messiah is one of the finest wonders of the musical world. Written for Easter, it took time for Messiah to find its niche as a Christmas favorite. . . but the whole first part of Messiah is about the birth of Christ.

Our History

The Bethesda Mennonite Church Chancel Choir has a rich tradition of a high level of music performance for both worship service settings and special performances. All performances by the Chancel Choir are intended to be an outreach of Bethesda Mennonite Church. Besides Messiah, the choir has presented Vivaldi’s Gloria, Durante’s Magnificat, and David Willcock’s Christmas Carols with orchestra and soloists.

The first presentation of Messiah at Bethesda was in 1969 under the direction of Don Peters with soloists and keyboard accompaniment. In 1981 the choir began a partnership with the Nebraska Symphony Chamber Orchestra from Lincoln, Nebraska to accompany the performance. This relationship continues to the present day. Every three years, Bethesda makes the commitment to offer this type of outreach to the public. The service is supported by free will offering.

Our Soloists

Leah Purdy, soprano

Leah Purdy is currently the Director of Choirs at North Platte High School where she directs the Freshman Choir, Mixed Choir, Concert Choir, Blue and Gold Singers and teaches Music Appreciation. She also directs a musical each year. Musicals under her direction have included West Side Story, The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Into the Woods, Footloose, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Anything Goes and will direct Cinderella this spring. She has also held lead roles in a number of musicals including Into the Woods, Cinderella, Ruddigore, and Loves Me, and Seussical.
This is her third appearance in the Messiah in Henderson. In 2007, Leah was chosen as Nebraska Wesleyan University’s Outstanding Young Alumni for her accomplishments in teaching high school choral music. Leah also enjoys running, having completed her first half marathon this September. Leah is the daughter of our director, Rod and Judy Drews of Henderson. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Leah lives in North Platte with her husband Ryan and their three children: Elliott (10), Carly (7), and Addisyn (3).

Kay Schroeder, alto

Kay Schroeder serves as the Pastor of Worship at First Mennonite Church in Newton, KS. She has previously sung the alto solos in the Bethesda Mennonite Church presentations of the Messiah in 2002 and 2005. Kay graduated from Bethel College, North Newton, KS with degrees in Speech Communications and Drama, and Music. Kay’s credits include being a soloist with the Newton Chorale and planning and leading worship at various retreats and conferences. Kay is married to Joel and they have two sons, Jordan and Justen.

Richard Drews, tenor

Opera News has called Richard Drews “a tenor of sweet, piercing clarity.” A winner of the Arthur E. Sullivan Grant, WGN Auditions on the Air and the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, he has sung more than 30 leading roles in the United States, Canada and Europe, and started his career as a member of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

A Nebraska native, Drews debuted in Europe as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, Germany and at the Metropolitan Opera as Alfred in Die Fledermaus. Subsequent Met performances included appearances in Manon Lescaut, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Traviata, Die Zauberflöte, Eugene Onegin, Madama Butterfly, Parsifal and L’elisir d’amore. At the Met, Drews created the role of the Marquis in the world premiere of John Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles and later sang the role of Count Almaviva when the production moved to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Other opera engagements have included the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Gerald in Lakmé, and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at the New York City Opera; Prunier in La Rondine, Alfred in Die Fledermaus at Washington Opera; Singer No. #4 in Susa’s Transformations and Prunier at Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Rodolfo in La Bohème and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Florida Grand Opera; and Lenski in Eugene Onegin, Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Chevalier Des Grieux in Manon, and Nadir in Les Pêcheur des Perles with the Atlanta Opera; Chevalier Des Grieux in Manon with Mobile Opera; Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly Omaha Opera and Seattle Opera; and Rodolfo in La Bohême, Alfredo in La Traviata and the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier with Santa Fe Opera, among others.

Mr. Drews has worked with such noted conductors as James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Sir Charles Mackerras, Bruno Bartoletti, Leonard Slatkin, Dennis Russell-Davies, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Nello Santi, Mark Elder, David Runnicles, John Mauceri, Joseph Colaneri, Emmanuel Villaume, Mario Bernardi, John Crosby, Scott Bergeson, Ransom Wilson, John Fiore, Daniel Beckwith, Mark Flint, Julius Rudel, Anton Coppola, William Fred Scott, Antonio Pappano, Victor Yampolsky, John DeMain and others.

Highlights of Drews’ concert performances include Nabucco at Carnegie Hall with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Riccardo Muti, conducting; La Damnation de Faust with the Vancouver Symphony, Mario Bernardi, conducting. Recent engagements include the world premiere performances of Surrender Road by Grammy-award winning composer Marcus Hummon with Nashville Opera. In May 2008 he performed as tenor soloist in Northwestern University Symphony and Chorus performances of the Verdi Messa da Requiem, Victor Yampolsky conducting. In 2010 he performed as tenor soloist with the Chicago Sinfonietta in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Orchestra Hall; William Walton’s Façade with the Northwestern University Saxophone Ensemble, and performed a solo vocal recital with Alan Darling May 1, 2010 on the campus of Northwestern University Bienen School of Music.

Drews resides in Oak Park, Illinois with his wife Mary Jane and has two children, daughter Emmet a junior attending Indiana University, and son, Joshua a sophomore at the School of the Art Institute- Chicago. This past June and July Drews performed as tenor soloist in performances of Verdi Requiem with Varna International Music Festival in Umbria, Todi, Perugia, Asiago, and Rovigo, Italy. He will join the faculty at Varna in the summer of 2012. Richard is a proud alum from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music, where he studied with Prof. Earl “Pete” Jenkins. He is an active performer in recital and in symphony engagements and often conducts vocal master classes throughout the United States.

William Shomos, bass

Hixson-Lied Professor of Voice and Opera

William Shomos is Director of Opera and Professor of Voice at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There he has staged a wide variety of productions ranging from traditional faire (The Marriage of Figaro, La Bohèm) to world premieres and new works (O Pioneers!, Dead Man Walking). His staging of Tyler White’s O Pioneers! received regional and national acclaim and was aired on Nebraska Educational Television (NETV). His productions of Dead Man Walking, Così fan tutte and Street Scene won first place in the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition. Mr. Shomos has staged several works with Pensacola Opera (L’Elisir d’Amore, Le Nozze di Figaro) and Nevada Opera (L’Elisir d’Amore, Così fan tutte, Die Zauberföte, Turandot). Between 2003 and 2005, Shomos spent three seasons with the Des Moines Metro Opera as stage director in the company’s Apprentice Artist program, while also assistant directing mainstage productions. Between 2006 and 2009, he directed productions with La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy (Il Campanello, Angelica/Gianni Schicchi, Le Nozze di Figaro, Madama Butterfly). Shomos has also directed outreach programs for both the Des Moines Metro Opera and Opera Omaha. In the summer of 2011, Mr. Shomos returned to the Des Moines Metro Opera to direct in the Apprentice Artist Program.

As a singer, he has performed numerous leading baritone roles including Marcello in La Bohème Captain Corcoran in, and the title role in Sweeney Todd. In 2006, Mr. Shomos appeared as a faculty artist with UNL Opera’s production of featured at the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera in Waterford, Ireland, where Shomos was awarded “Best Male Singer” for his portrayal of Tony Esposito. As a recitalist, Mr. Shomos toured throughout the country as a part of internationally renowned accompanist John Wustman’s project to present the Complete Songs of Franz Schubert. In 2010, he performed Winterreise with Wustman at UNL. In 1999 he sang a performance of the, which the Omaha World Herald declared to be “a towering accomplishment that will stand as one of the region’s musical high points of the year and even the decade.” Recent oratorio work has included the baritone roles in Ein deutsches Requiem, Messiah, and Elijah. William Shomos holds degrees from the University of Illinois (DMA), Northwestern University (MM), and Knox College (BA).



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