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MVNU Celebrates 50 Years of Handel’s Messiah

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — Mount Vernon Nazarene University presented the 50th annual performance of G. F. Handel’s Messiah on Sunday, Dec. 3 in the R.R. Hodges Chapel/Auditorium on the MVNU campus.

In the early days of Mount Vernon Nazarene College, the tradition of an annual performance of the Messiah originated with the presentation of four chosen choruses at a Christmas concert held on Friday, Dec. 13, 1968, at First Church of the Nazarene in Mount Vernon. The first Christmas concert was conducted by Reuben Rodeheaver, former professor of music, who was also current conductor Dr. Robert Tocheff’s choral director. The first MVNC Christmas concert also included a violin solo by Mrs. Christine (Hardy) Nease, wife of the first college president, Dr. Stephen W. Nease. The Messiah has been presented every year since that time by either the MVNU Collegians Chorale or Choral Union with several conductors and professional soloists and many talented and faithful orchestra members.

It is noteworthy that the current concertmaster, Sharon Blaydes, played her 39th Messiah performance on Sunday, and Dr. Tocheff conducted his 27th performance. David Templeton, bass soloist, and harpsichordist, David Robinson, each have performed 21 times.

This year’s presentation was performed by the 160-voice MVNU Choral Union and community singers, faculty and guest soloists and chamber orchestra. The featured soloists were Elizabeth Barrett, MVNU music faculty member; Carolyn Redman, 1989 MVNU music alumna, classical performer and adjunct voice professor at Kenyon College and Otterbein University; and Tyler Skidmore, 2004 MVNU music alumnus, music specialist with the Medina, Ohio, City School District and frequent area vocalist. Returning bass soloist David Templeton is an associate professor of voice and director of opera at The College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina. John Packard, MVNU Music Department Chair, and guest musician Michael Eaton assisted on trumpet.

Another cherished tradition is the MVNU Student Messiah where student soloists, selected through auditions, are given the opportunity to perform with the Choral Union at the last chapel of the fall semester, which recently took place on Friday, Dec. 1.

To learn more about the MVNU Music Department, visit

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and several convenient Graduate and Professional Studies locations throughout the state, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education to more than 2,200 students from 32 states and 19 countries/U.S. territories.