Recital given by guest soloists of 131st Messiah Festival

LINDSBORG, KAN., March 20, 2012—Guest soloists of Bethany College’s 131st annual Messiah Festival of the Arts will give a free recital on April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Presser Auditorium.

Soprano Karen Kness, mezzo soprano Sharon O’Connell Campbell, tenor John Wesley Wright, and bass Weston Hurt will perform works of their choice, including ones by Henry Purcell, Edvard Grieg, Fernando J. Obradors, Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Antonín Dvorãk.

Karen KnessSoprano Karen Kness (sponsored by Peoples Bank & Trust) has been an instructor in voice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and will begin teaching at Western Michigan University next year. She has been awarded first place in the Nebraska state and regional vocal competitions of National Association of Teachers Singing and performed in numerous opera roles, including Queen of the Night in “The Magic Flute,” Donna Anna in “Don Giovanni,” Monica in “The Medium,” and Lucy Honeychurch in the Midwest premier of “A Room with a View.” Other oratorio credits include Bach’s “Saint Johannes Passion,” “An Elegy on the Death of Thomas Tallis,” “Carmina Burana,” “Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day,” Handel’s “Messiah,” Rossini’s “Petite Messe Solennelle,” Brahm’s “German Requiem,” and “Blue” by James Syler. Kness has been the soloist for Mozart’s “C Minor Mass” with the Mozart Festival Orchestra in Indianapolis, the Holiday Pops Concert with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, and with the Bach chamber ensemble, Collegium Musicum Concordia, during its Midwest tour. Kness holds a Bachelor and Master of Music in vocal performance from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and is currently finishing her doctorate of music in vocal performance from Indiana University.

Sharon O'Connell CampbellMezzo-soprano Sharon O’Connell Campbell (sponsored by Scott’s Hometown Foods) specializes in opera, musical theatre, concert, and recital collections. Most recently Campbell performed as the Third Lady in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City production of “Die Zauberflöte,” Baba in “The Medium,” and Cherubino in “Le Nozze di Figaro” with Civic Opera of Kansas City. Her latest solo performances, featuring the work of Mahler and Berlioz, include Vivaldi’s “Gloria” with Black Hills State University, Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9” with the Kansas City Philharmonic, and in Bradley Ellingboe’s “Requiem” with the Chicago Arts Orchestra. Campbell is a graduate of the University of Kansas, where she earned her Doctor of Musical Arts in vocal performance as a student of Joyce Castle. She holds a Master of Music from the Conservatory of University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she studied with “Classical Singer” 2009 Teacher of the Year Inci Bashar, and a Bachelor of Music from the University of New Mexico, where she studied with Bradley Ellingboe. Campbell currently teaches at the University of Nebraska Kearney. She has previously taught studio voice at the University of Kansas and served as visiting lecturer in music at Benedictine College, Kan.

John Wesley WrightTenor John Wesley Wright (sponsored by Aunt Agda’s Attic and Seasons of the Fox) is known for his artistic and soulful interpretations of music ranging from baroque to Broadway. He has performed a nationally televised concert for the Belgian Royal Family and toured as a soloist in professional ensembles throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. Attaining a host of opera and oratorio roles, art songs, spirituals, and cabaret music in his repertoire, Wright is a member of the acclaimed American Spiritual Ensemble and is highlighted in the recent PBS documentary “The Spirituals: Featuring the American Spiritual Ensemble.” In addition to recording and touring with the ASE, Wright was invited to Osaka and Tokyo in December to perform Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” and Handel’s “Messiah” benefit concerts to support the amnesty efforts of the Japan International Volunteer Center. Wright has taught at Salisbury University since 2006. He has  served as artist-inresidence at the University of Dayton for eight years and guest artist and teacher at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Kentucky Governor’s School, and the Maryland Summer Center for the Arts held at Salisbury University. Wright holds degrees from Maryville College and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and is an active clinician, vocal consultant, and leader of workshops on singing in the African-American tradition.

Weston HurtBass Weston Hurt (sponsored by The Associated Churches of Lindsborg) is a prolific concert singer and recitalist who recently had his debuts with the Nashville Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, and the Oratorio Society of New York in Carnegie Hall. Hurt’s large repertoire includes Handel’s “Messiah,” Fauré’s “Requiem,” Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” and “Magnificat,” Mozart’s “Mass in C Minor” and “Coronation Mass,” Haydn’s “Paukenmesse,” and Britten’s “War Requiem,” which he sang at Carnegie Hall. He has performed recitals sponsored by the Marilyn Home Foundation throughout the U.S. and Brahm’s “Ein Deutsches Requiem “ throughout South America. Hurt graduated from the Julliard Opera Center and has earned numerous vocal awards, including ones from the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, GeorgeLondon Foundation, Oratorio Society of New York Competition, Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation International Competition,  Liederkranz Foundation, Metropolitan Opera National Council, Opera Index, Inc., Palm Beach Opera Competition, and The Santa Fe Opera. Hurt currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.

In addition to the recital, the soloists will join Bach baritone Danny Belcher (sponsored by Bethany College President Ed Leonard and family), the Bethany Oratorio Society (sponsored by Lindsborg Realty and McPherson Abstract & Title), and Conductor Jeffery Wall (sponsored by Jim Prugh and Tradhuset) to perform Handel’s “Messiah” on April 1 and 8 at 3 p.m. and Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” on April 6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $12. A special $5 discount per ticket is available for teachers, seniors, churches, and tour groups of 15 or more. High school students are invited to attend free of charge and their family members will receive $5 off their tickets.

To purchase tickets, call Bethany’s Messiah Coordinator Blakely Bunning at (785) 227-3380, ext. 8137, between 1 and 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday or e-mail bunningb@bethanylb.edu.

The Bethany Oratorio Society has presented Handel’s Messiah every year since 1882, making it the longest consecutive annual rendition in North America. World-renowned soloists perform with the Society for audiences at the college, across the plains, in Carnegie Hall, and on national television. Messiah is performed during Bethany College’s annual Messiah Festival of the Arts, when hundreds of guests enjoy the weeklong celebration of sacred music concerts, art exhibitions, and theatre performances. For the full listing of Festival events, visit www.bethanylb.edu//messiah.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu/.