The University of Arkansas at Monticello concert choir, the Arkansas Choral Society, and members of the Arkansas Symphony will present George Fredrick Handel’s Messiah at the UAM Fine Arts Center in Monticello on December 5 at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a performance on December 4 performance at 7:30 p.m. at the First Pentecostal Church in North Little Rock.
Tickets for the December 5 performance at UAM are $15 for adults, free to UAM students with ID, and may be purchased online at searkconcert.org or at the door. Ticket prices for the December 4 performance in Little Rock are $15 for adults, $10 for students with ID, and free for children under 12. Tickets may be purchased by calling (501) 376-8484 or at the door.
Both performances will be conducted by Dr. Kent Skinner, director of choral activities at UAM.
The performances will feature selections from all three parts of the Messiah, including “For unto us a child is born,” “Hallelujah,” “Rejoice Greatly,” and “Worthy is the Lamb.” Soloists include Suzanne Banister, soprano; Diana Salesky, alto; Sergio Cepeda, tenor; and Scott Bearden, baritone.
Banister has been a frequent soloist with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, singing multiple performances with ASO’s Masterworks, Family, Broadway/Pops and Chamber Series. She has also performed with the Pine Bluff Symphony, the South Arkansas Symphony, and the Conway Symphony. Other solo work includes singing with the Lake Charles Messiah Orchestra, Opera Theater of Wildwood, New Orleans Opera Company, Arkansas Chamber Singers, Arkansas Choral Society, and the Memphis Vocal Arts Ensemble.
Diana Salesky began her professional career at the New York City Opera. She has appeared with the Brooklyn Bach Festival, the New York Festival Orchestra, and Musica Hebraica. She served for a decade as vocal adjudicator for the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan and was a consultant to the New York State Board of Education’s arts program. For the past five years, she has been a member of Choralfest, a group of premier professional singers and instrumentalists who perform large choral works.
Sergio Cepeda holds degrees from the University of Texas-Arlington and Texas Christian University and earned a post-graduate artist certificate in opera performance in 2013 from the University of North Texas. He currently holds a teaching post at Tarrant County College while continuing his opera training with Gioacchino Li Vigni and the Mediterranean Opera Studio in Sicily and New York.
Baritone Scott Bearden is a past winner of the Irene Dalis Vocal Competition and the Chester Ludgin AmericanVerdi Baritone Competition. In the 2013 opera season, he portrayed the title character in Verdi’s Falstaff with the San Jose Opera, performed the role of Jack Rance in La Fanciulla del West with the Knoxville Opera, as well as an appearance with the Sanibel Island Music Festival. He played the role of Satan in a jazz opera, Onmia ad dei Gloriam, as part of the New York Music Theater Festival.