NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Student and faculty voices will be featured when the A Cappella Choir at Stephen F. Austin State University presents a full performance of G.F. Handel's great oratorio, "Messiah," at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 8, in Cole Concert Hall in the Wright Music Building on the SFA campus.
Dr. Tim King, director of choral activities in the SFA School of Music, will conduct Handel's best-known work. The performance will showcase many of King's colleagues as soloists.
"For 40 years, I have been blessed to work with the most talented voice teachers that you will find anywhere," King said. "Not only are they great teachers, but they are fantastic performers willing to share their talent. This fulfills the charge of an educator - to do whatever it takes to make our student performances musical, exciting and meaningful."
Soloists include Joshua Chavira, Houston graduate student, countertenor; and faculty members Debbie Berry, soprano; Charlotte Davis, soprano; Ric Berry, tenor; and Scott LaGraff, bass. SFA faculty and guest string players from the Dallas and Houston areas will also perform.
Chavira completed his bachelor's degree in music education at SFA in 2016 and will complete his master's degree in choral conducting in 2018. He holds a position as a graduate assistant in the College of Fine Arts. He is a performing member of the A Cappella Choir and Madrigal Singers and holds membership in Mu Phi Epsilon and Pi Kappa Lambda. He has performed in SFA's opera productions singing in the chorus for "La Traviata," as King Kaspar in "Amahl and the Night Visitors," and as Lippo Fiorentino in "Street Scene."
LaGraff, a baritone, has sung leading and supporting roles with such companies as Tri-Cities Opera, Syracuse Opera, Pensacola Opera, Tulsa Opera and Opera East Texas. He has also appeared as a concert soloist with the East Texas, Syracuse and Baton Rouge symphonies, as well as the Syracuse Oratorio Society, the Canterbury Choral Society in Oklahoma City and at Carnegie Hall with MidAmerica Productions. LaGraff's first CD, "Songs by Stephen Lias, Michael Patterson and Lee Hoiby," was released by Centaur Records in 2009, and a second CD, "Incline Thine Ear and Other Sacred Songs," also with Centaur, is schedule for release April 7. A native of Athens, Ohio, he holds degrees from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, SUNY-Binghamton and Louisiana State University. LaGraff joined SFA's faculty in 2004, after having taught at Simpson College and Cornell University.
Davis, a native of Tucson, Arizona, holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Arizona and a Master of Arts degree in vocal performance from SFA. Her stage experience includes roles in productions of "The Tales of Hoffmann," "A Little Night Music," "Susannah," "Albert Herring" and "The Impresario." She performs regularly in the East Texas area, and has performed at SFA as the soprano soloist in Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis," Handel's "Messiah" and Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Hodie."
Richard Berry, tenor, is professor of music and dean of the Graduate School at SFA. He has taught at the University of Kansas, the University of Denver and the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has performed as a soloist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of Santa Fe, the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the Central City Singers, the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra, the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society, the Valley Symphony Orchestra, the Longview Opera Company and the San Antonio Choral Society. He holds degrees from Kilgore College, SFA and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Debbie Berry, soprano, is a native of Wichita Falls. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in voice performance from SFA. After a teaching stint at Wayland University, she moved to Kansas City where she did post-graduate work at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her performance credits include solos with the Kansas City Philharmonic, the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, the Longview Opera Repertory Company, the Central City Singers (of the Central City Opera House Association), and regular appearances as a recitalist in Denver, Kansas City and East Texas. Among her operatic roles are as Violetta in "La Traviata," Donna Anna in "Don Giovanni," Musetta in "La Boheme," Baby Doe in "The Ballad of Baby Doe," Rosina in "The Barber of Seville," the Witch in "Hansel and Gretel," and Gilda in "Rigoletto." Her oratorio repertoire includes the soprano solos in Mozart's "Requiem," Brahms' "Ein deutches Requiem," Orff's "Carmina Burana," and Haydn's "The Creation." She has performed extensively in musical comedy: Widow Corney in 'Oliver," Maria in "The Sound of Music," Sarah Brown in "Guys and Dolls," Julie Jordan in "Carousel," Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady," Hodel in "Fiddler on the Roof," Fiona McLaren in "Brigadoon," Magnolia in "Show Boat," and Lilly in "Kiss Me Kate."
Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS or visit http://www.finearts.sfasu.edu/.