From staff reports

PITTSBURG, Kan. - The Pittsburg State University Department of Music is preparing to revive a tradition from the university's earliest days. The department will present Handel's "The Messiah" on Dec. 6 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Pittsburg.

For most of the university's first half century, the performance of "The Messiah" was an annual event. Begun by Walter McCray, the man who first led the university's music department, the yearly production of "The Messiah" attracted internationally acclaimed musicians to Pittsburg and helped give the young college a solid reputation both in the state and nationally. Former school president William Brandenburg credited the productions with helping influence the Kansas legislature to fund the construction of several major buildings on campus.

The tradition of "The Messiah" then fell by the wayside after McCray retired from the university in 1947.

The performance is being revived by Stella Hastings, PSU music department faculty member and director of the Southeast Kansas Symphony. Hastings reports that PSU plans on doing the entire oratorio, not just the portions most people associate with the holiday season.

Rehearsals are slated to begin this month and Hastings is looking for the best voices in the Four-State Area. The event isn't just for PSU students and faculty, but participation is open to area church choir members, and high school and college students. The chorus needs 15 sopranos, 20 altos, 20 tenors and 15 basses.

Practices will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays in October in McCray Hall on the PSU campus. Those interested in becoming a member of the chorus are to contact Hastings at (620) 235-4469.

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