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'Messiah' returns to Augustana May 1

George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” will return to the stage at Augustana College on May 1. The oratorio was an annual favorite at the college for many years, but has not been performed since 2018.

The slightly abridged version of the oratorio, is expected to last about two hours. It will begin at 3 p.m. in Centennial Hall.

The performance will be by the Augustana Oratorio Society, conducted by Dr. Jon Hurty, Augustana’s director of choral activities. Soloists are Joseph Barron, bass; Jesse Darden, tenor; Kelly Hill, alto; and Emily Truckenbrod, soprano.

The Oratorio Society was formed in 1880 and currently consists of community members, Augustana students, and members of the Augustana Choir. The ensemble is celebrated for exploring the riches of choral-orchestral literature. 

“We are looking forward to performing this great Masterwork again after four years,” said Dr. Hurty. “The singers are enjoying the opportunity to delve back into Handel’s wonderful choruses, and we are all excited to share this well-known and beloved piece with our audiences.” 

Though usually performed at the college in the Christmas season, the 2018 performance was on Palm Sunday. “Messiah” originally was written for the Easter season, and premiered on April 13, 1742, in Dublin. Augustana Professor Olof Olsson had seen “Messiah” in London in 1879 and formed the Augustana Oratorio Society to perform it in April 1881.

“It was conceived as an Easter piece in the first place,” Dr. Hurty has said. “There’s only a slice, from movement 12 to the end of the first part, that’s really Christmas.”

Tickets for the May 1 concert are available online, at the door, or by calling 309-794-7306. Tickets are $21; or $16 for seniors; $11 for faculty and staff, and all students and children.


Conductor Jon Hurty is director of choral activities and Henry Veld Professor of Music. He directs the Augustana Choir, the Augustana Chamber Singers, serves as the conductor of the Augustana Oratorio Society and teaches conducting. He is also co-director of music for Augustana Campus Ministries and is the conductor and artistic director of Augustana Choral Artists. Before coming to Rock Island he was director of choral activities at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif.

He completed his undergraduate degree in vocal performance at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, a master’s degree in choral conducting from California State University, Northridge, and a doctorate in choral conducting and literature from the University of Illinois. He has studied conducting with John Alexander, Don Moses, Chet Alwes and Ann Howard Jones.

Active as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States and abroad, he has served in this capacity in all-state, state, and regional festivals of the American Choral Directors Association, the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, National Association for Music Education, and many colleges and high schools. He has guest conducted the Tian Kong Choir and served as guest professor at Huazhong Normal University in Wuhan, China. He has conducted his choirs in concerts throughout the United States as well as Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Spain, and Sweden. He has done significant work on free improvisation with choirs and has published an Apple iBook on the subject.

Bass-baritone Joseph Barron’s 2021-22 season includes his debut as Don Pizarro in "Fidelio" with Opera North Carolina, Bartolo in "Il barbiere di Siviglia" at Finger Lakes Opera, and his role debut as Colline with Charlottesville Opera. Recent debuts include Opera Hong Kong and New Orleans Opera as Leporello in "Don Giovanni," Opera Carolina and Opera Grand Rapids as the title role in "Le nozze di Figaro," Virginia Opera as Kaspar in "Der Freischütz," Bard Summerscape as Basmanov in Dvorak’s "Dimitrij," and the Berkshire Opera Festival as Sparafucile in "Rigoletto."

Barron previously has joined the Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, and Arizona Opera. Recent concert engagements include his debut at Carnegie Hall, Handel’s "Messiah" with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Eugene Symphony’s holiday pop concert, and Mozart’s "Requiem" with the Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra. 

A native of Pittsburgh,, he received his master of music at the Curtis Institute of Music and his bachelor of music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Tenor Jesse Darden’s voice has been described as “warm and buttery” (Boston Classical Review). Earlier this season, Darden made his debut with Lincoln Center Theater covering and performing the role of Mark in Ricky Ian Gordon’s critically acclaimed "Intimate Apparel," and in concert with the Penn Square Music Festival.

He returned to Boston Lyric Opera in 2020 to portray the role of Roderick Usher in Philip Glass’ "The Fall of the House of Usher" after his critically acclaimed performances as Timothy in "Fellow Travelers" in 2019. He made his Union Avenue Opera debut in 2019 in the title role of Candide. Darden spent his 2017 and 2018 summers as an apprentice artist with the Santa Fe Opera, performing several small roles, and covering the role of Robert Wilson in "Doctor Atomic." He has completed apprenticeships with Chautauqua Opera and Opera North. He has performed extensively with Boston Lyric Opera, Odyssey Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Dartmouth College, New York Festival of Song, the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra, Piedmont Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and the Chautauqua Symphony.

Alto Kelly Hill has returned home to Iowa after completing her M.M. and A.D. at the Yale School of Music. While living in New England, she performed leading operatic roles with the Opera Theater of Connecticut, Hartford Opera Theater, and Madison Lyric Stage, and sang as a soloist with The Hartford Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, and the Yale Philharmonia. She has apprenticed with the Santa Fe Opera, Central City Opera, Cedar Rapids Opera Theater, and spent a summer as a Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Regional operatic credits include the title role in "Carmen," Madeline Mitchell in "Three Decembers," Jo March in "Little Women" with the University of Iowa Opera Theater. She also made her hometown debut as Marcellina in Mozart’s "Le Nozze di Figaro" with Opera Quad Cities, and returned to the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre as Suzuki in "Madama Butterfly."

Local concert work has included appearances with the Chamber Singers of Iowa City, Cornell College, and St. Ambrose University. She had the privilege of premiering Jacob Banck’s opera, "Karkinos," with the Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra, and will return to appear in Jake Heggie’s "Two Remain: Out of Darkness." .Hill currently is pursuing a doctorate of musical arts at the University of Iowa as a recipient of the Iowa Performance Fellowship, and is a student of Stephen Swanson. Additionally, she teaches at Augustana College and St. Ambrose University. 

Soprano Emily Truckenbrod, praised for a voice “having sweet clarity” which “personifies the joy of the music,” has appeared in recitals, concerts, and opera throughout the United States as well as in Italy, France, Austria, Honduras and Tanzania, East Africa. Lauded for her performances in oratorio and orchestral works, Truckenbrod has appeared as soloist with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Wichita Symphony, the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony (Indiana), the Handel Oratorio Society (Illinois), Collegium Vocale of St. Louis, Masterworks Chorale (Illinois), the American Kantorei (St. Louis), the LaFosse Baroque Ensemble (Iowa), and Concert Choir of Northeast Connecticut. 

She has appeared in opera in roles ranging from the Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte) to Oscar (Un Ballo in Maschera), among others. Most recently, Truckenbrod appeared with the St. Louis Opera Collective in staged adaptations of Juliana Hall’s "Sentiment," Melissa Dunphy’s "Tesla’s Pigeon," as well as in the role of Beatrice in Jake Heggie’s opera, "3 Decembers." She holds the doctor of musical arts and master’s degree from the University of Iowa. Dr. Truckenbrod is currently professor and the director of vocal studies at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.  

Augustana Oratorio Society

Jon Hurty, conductor
Sheila Doak, accompanist


Kathy Calder
Briana Castro
Jennifer Cook-Gregory
Jessica Cotturone
Maria Coulter
Angela Dearking
Vicki Deusinger
Gail Dover
Michele Duschen
Brianna Ebenroth
M. Kathleen Figaro
Katie Griswold
Mylene Hanzelka
Cheri Janiczek
Renee Long
Jessie Madden
Kristan Mitchell
Elanor O’Neill
Kerri Peterson
Emma Pilmer
Ariela Policastro
Madeline Rodriguez
Susan Runyon
Julia Shaw
Jessa Simon
Abriana Tereza
Courtney Thames
Paula Thompson
Jennifer Van Speybroeck
Cassidy Wiltjer
Anna Winn


Margaret Cannizzaro
Sue Clark
Izzy Dale
Sophie Douvris
Andrea Edelen
Anne Earel
Carole Feeney
Gwen Foulkes
Margaret Horn
Kaitlin Jacobson
Amber Johnson
Kathryn Kramer
Marie Lindmark
Kelly Mattson
Megan McLaughlin
Amber Mraz
Lucille Perley
Emma Raczka
Sandy Ridolfi
Mattheia Rudolph
Bev Rosenbohm
Ellen Ryan
Linda Shearer
Tamara Sneddon
Grace Strache
Debra Swift
Rachel Thomaschefsky
Anna Triska
Sarah Walton


Steve Arp
Brent Behrens
Colin Claytor
Caleb Conard
Jim Earel
Keenan Ellis
Ben Grafe
Robert Gregory
Jonathan Jaworowski
Ryan Jones
Nathan Maras
Jorge Mendez
Jonathan Palomaki
Terry Stratton
Philip Tunnicliff
AJ Weber
Karin Wirtherow
Benedict Wood
Craig Witte


Eli Bates
George Behnke
Gary Bowrey
Andrew Bradshaw
Spiro Bruskas
Robert Burke
Jim DeReus
Dan Drescher
Greg Graf
Peter Grau
Robert Gull
Jerry Hansen
Dick Hanzelka
Brian Heffernan
George Kalemkarian
Bailey King
Ryley Knar
Dan Kraus
Hector Lareau
Justin Lebo
Don Madson
Ardie Miller
Lorenzo Moreno
Richard O’Neill
Dave Pedersen
Ben Radeke
Tony Schiltz
Jared Slusher
George Swift
Xander Thomson
Jerry VanScoy

Augustana Oratorio Chamber Orchestra

Violin I

Susan Stone, Concertmaster
Stephanie Dotzel
Andrew Gentzsch
Karen Martin
ShengHo Wang
Junhong Zhou

Violin II

Jeffrey Phillips, Principal
William Gentzsch
Elizabeth Lundine
Hyun-Kyung Ryu
Sabrina Tabby


Deborah Dakin, Principal
Linnea Johansen
Miranda Preuss


Janina Ehrlich, Principal
Grant Estes
Terry Sims


Alexander Waters, Principal
Richard Wagor


Cynthia Lambrecht, Principal
Gwendolyn Flannery


Susan Bawden


James Lambrecht, Principal
Margaret Ellis


Tony Oliver


Christopher Nelson


Mary Neil


Ticket Office, 309-794-7306

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