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Upcoming Western presentation of Handelís Messiah is a statewide musical collaboration

December 05, 2014

ROCK SPRINGS – When Assistant Professor of Music Joshua R. Wentz, Ph.D., interviewed for his position at Western Wyoming Community College back in the summer, he was presented with an exciting, if potentially daunting, concert possibility. The Performing Arts Department was interested in bringing together the Green River and Rock Springs Community Chorales to perform Handel’s Messiah, the famed Baroque oratorio by 18th-century composer George Frideric Handel that has become a holiday performance standard all over the world. 

Wentz, who had performed Messiah many times and was very familiar with it, thought it was a fine idea. 

“I said I wouldn’t do the whole thing. I would do Part One, if we were to do it,” Wentz said. “The biggest thing was getting the choir directors on board with it in both communities, and getting the orchestra committed to playing it. Everybody seemed pretty excited about it.”    

Even so, a work as rich and complex as Handel’s would require more musicians that could be assembled locally. So Wentz reached out to musical organizations across the state, including the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, and the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra, to recruit instrumentalists to complement the Sweetwater BOCES Orchestra and Rock Springs Community Band musicians, thereby doing full justice to the work.

“It’s really going to be a statewide project,” Wentz said. “I’ve got people coming from Riverton and Evanston and Casper and Gillette. It’s going to be a big event.”

Messiah serves as a musical celebration of the life and meaning of Jesus Christ. Part I begins with the Old Testament prophecies of Christ’s birth by Isaiah and others, and concludes with the announcement of Christ’s birth to the shepherds. Handel’s Messiah is a holiday favorite around the world, and this will be the first time it has been performed at Western.

Participants include:

Dancers: David Frias; Miguel Jarillo-Pedraza; Joshua Martinez; Kirklin Carroll; Kendra Christensen; Paige Miller; and Hazuki Kotsugai

Bass Soloists: Roy Nichols III (Thursday); Brandon Coprich (Friday); and Bill Hoyt (Saturday)

Tenor Soloists: James Themig (Thursday);  Chris Will (Friday); and  Michael Curtis (Saturday)

Alto Soloists: Leesa Kuhlmann (Thursday); Tracie Soller (Friday);  and Sheenia Stuart-Pettibone (Saturday)

Soprano Soloists: Wendy Moon (Thursday); Kathy Riedl (Friday); and Janell Hunter (Saturday)

Directors: Joshua R. Wentz  – Conductor; Britta Joy Peterson – Choreographer; Amy Critchfield – Lighting Designer; Ryan Price – Set Designer; Weston Lamb – Artistic Director, BOCES Orchestra ; Sarah Wessel – Executive Director, BOCES Orchestra;  Chris Jacobsen – Director, Rock Springs Chorale;  and Marlys Ciscar – Director, Green River Chorale.

Handel’s Messiah is presented by the WWCC Performing Arts Department and Sweetwater BOCES and is under the direction of WWCC Assistant Professor of Music Joshua R. Wentz, Ph.D. It will open on Thursday, Dec. 11, at 7:30 p.m. with additional shows on Friday, Dec. 12, and Saturday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $6. No children under 5 will be admitted.

The Department would like to thank the many musicians, singers, groups, and organizations that have come together to make this concert, and all of the Department's programs, possible.

For additional information, please contact Prof. Wentz at or at (307) 382-1735.

For more information, contact Audrey Harton at (307) 382-1661 or
(307) 382-1600 or toll free (800) 226-1181