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Oratorio Society Celebrates 100 Years

Oratorio Society Celebrates 100 Years

It's a big landmark for Calvin's Oratorio Society which began simply as a "choral club" in the early 1900s. In 1910 an associate editor of Chimes, the college's student newspaper, dreamed that someday "the choral classes of the city, limited perhaps to the Reformed denominations, unite into one grand chorus and undertake the rendition of some oratorio. In time, if all went well, and the directors and pupils grasped the opportunity with enthusiasm, even the Messiah might be attempted." (Chimes, Oct. 1910, p. 247).

And here we are, more than 100 years later, celebrating a big anniversary. Congratulations, Oratorio Society!

Messiah was not actually attempted until 1921 under the baton of Reese Veatch. It was performed in the auditorium of the Administration Building on the Franklin campus. The society has had six more conductors since Veatch's leadership and has performed in several halls. The Grand Rapids Civic Auditorium was a well-established location from the 1930s through the 70s. Howard Slenk, Calvin music professor and director of the Oratorio from 1981-1997, brought Messiah to DeVos Performance Hall. Now the society performs in the auditorium of the Covenant Fine Arts Center.

Visit Heritage Hall and look at the display windows to learn more about the Oratorio Society's distinguished history.

This year, Messiah will be performed on Dec. 6 and 7 under the baton of director Sean Ivory. Consider making it a part of your Christmas celebrations.

- Posted November 20, 2019 by Kathy DeMey (2:42 PM)