The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Department of Music will present the UAPB Vesper Choir in the 64th annual presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Auditorium of the Pine Bluff Convention Center, One Convention Center Plaza.


The Vesper Choir will be assisted by members of the UAPB concert bands, wind symphony and by guest string and woodwind players from Central Arkansas and the Memphis area. This annual event marks the official beginning of the Christmas celebration on the UAPB campus.


Michael J. Bates, director of the Vesper Choir, will conduct the performance. The assistant conductor is John Graham, Jr., UAPB director of bands. Andee Book, voice instructor and assistant director of the Vesper Choir, and Jerron Liddell, music assistant, have assisted in the preparation of the Vesper Choir for this performance.


The performance will be in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UAPB Vesper Choir in 1947 by Professor Ariel “Pops” Lovelace, who at that time was also chairperson of the AM&N Music Department. The contribution to the growth of the Vesper Choir by Professor Shelton J. McGee will also be celebrated.


McGee, who conducted the Vesper Choir nearly 50 years, brought the group to greater prominence and visibility across the country, according to a news release from UAPB.


The contribution of Michael J. Bates, current director of the Vesper Choir, will also be highlighted. Under the direction of Bates, the Vesper Choir has attained international recognition from performance tours to Italy and Spain and appearances on the internet and performances at prestigious venues across the country.


Guest alumni soloists will be Robin Tisdale, soprano, Pine Bluff; Leon Walker, tenor, Kansas City, Missouri; and Duane Jackson, bass, choral teacher in the Pine Bluff School District.


Student soloists will be sopranos Ya’Shontae Joyner-Holt of Moscow, Tennessee, Mary Rowe of Dermott and Kennedi Brown of Monticello. Altos will be Robin Roberts, of Memphis, Brandi Perri, of Birmingham, Alabama, and Wantara Tomlin of Tulsa.


Keonte Bishop, a tenor, is from Milwaukee, Maleek Ware, a baritone, is from Pine Bluff, and Gregory White, also a baritone, is from Kansas City, Missouri.


Trumpet professor Demar Woods will be the featured trumpet soloist. Members of the orchestra include: Judy Warner, adjunct instructor in the UAPB Music Department, Donna Lee-Thomas, alumnus and music instructor in the Pine Bluff School District, Tim Clark, alumnus and music instructor in the St. Louis School District.


The performance is free, and the public is cordially invited to attend this celebration of 70 years of performance excellence by the Vesper Choir.