Bask in Handel's inspiring Messiah, surrounded by candlelight and Calvary's magnificent Tiffany stained-glass masterpieces. Doors open early when volunteers welcome audience members to view the windows and select their seats for this moving holiday concert. Our interactive, family-friendly concert features professional soloists, Chamber Orchestra, Messiah Choir, our historic 1895 Farrand & Votey organ, and is followed by a cookie reception in the Victorian Chapel. Audience members are invited to bring one-pound non-perishable food donations and reusable tote bags for the Northside Food Pantry, an annual community outreach of Calvary UMC.
This will be our eighth year bringing this Calvary tradition to the Pittsburgh area. The concert is family-friendly - each child 12 and under will receive an activity pack. The sing-along was founded on a principle of openness - everyone is welcome in the choir, and everyone is welcome in the performance. No audition is required to sing, just join the rehearsals. As an audience member you are not required to sing, but you are certainly invited to sing.
This holiday tradition now brings over 600 people to Calvary UMC to sing selected choruses including the famous "Hallelujah Chorus." It's a fantastic way to kick off the holiday season, and we invite everyone to join us and sing for the joy of it!
Brian Burns Conductor/Music Director
Brian Burns (Music Director, Calvary United Methodist Church) is a long-time Pittsburgh resident and a native of Armstrong county. There, he began playing the Hammond organ in church at the age of 12. While attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania as a piano major, he was introduced to the pipe organ and changed his major to organ performance under the direction of the late Dr. Carol Teti. He was one of the first recipients of the Carol Teti Memorial Scholarship. His undergraduate work was completed with Dr. Christine Clewell in 2001. He served at several churches including St. Bernard's (Indiana, PA) and Ford Memorial United Methodist Church (Ford City, PA). Brian worked for three years with local organ builder Harry Ebert before discovering Calvary United Methodist Church where he used his skills to guide the restoration of Calvary's historic 1894 Farrand & Votey organ. Brian currently directs Calvary's Renewal Choir, the Festival Choir, and plays for all of Calvary's services.
Anna Singer Soprano
Anna Singer appeared with Palm Beach Opera Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall and as soprano soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 throughout Europe, most recently in Lisbon with the Orquestra Sinfonica Portugesa. Ms. Singer made her Carnegie Hall main stage debut with Manhattan Philharmonic. She has sung with New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and the opera companies of Cleveland, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, and Fort Worth, among others. Her many roles with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh include her acclaimed SummerFest performances as Hannah in The Merry Widow and Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music. Anna has sung leads in such operas as Tosca, Salome, Aida, Susannah, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, La Boheme, Le Nozze di Figaro, Lohengrin, Die Walkure, and Die Fledermaus, among others. For Microscopic Opera, she recently performed the role of Madame Lisette in Therese Racquin, among others. Anna made her Carnegie Hall recital debut as a result of her first prize-winning at the Center for Contemporary Opera Vocal Competition. She was awarded First Prize at the Palm Beach Opera Competition, the Dicapo Opera Theatre Vocal Competition, among many others. Heard on air as mid-day host on WQED-FM, Anna is soprano soloist for The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley.
Denise Sheffey-Powell Soprano
Denise Sheffey-Powell, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Denise received her Bachelor of Science degree from Duquesne University in Vocal Music, under the tutelage of the late Julia May and Mija Novich. In March of this year, Denise portrayed the role of Mama in the Prime Stage Theatre production of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou. Denise has been an active member of the Pittsburgh opera Company since 1982 and has performed various roles with the company, as well as with Civic Light Opera, City Theatre at Hartwood Acres and Pittsburgh Festival Opera. Competitively, she is a recipient of the Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Award and the Pittsburgh District Metropolitan Opera Award. She has been a featured vocalist with the Pittsburgh and Canton Symphony Orchestras. Some of her most distinguished roles have been: Victoria/A GATHERING OF SONS-world premiere opera; Donna Anna/ DON GIOVANNI; Carmen Jones/CARMEN JONES; Bess/Serena/PORGY AND BESS; Julia/JUST ABOVE MY HEAD-premiere jazz opera; Amahl’s mother/AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS.
Kara Cornell Mezzo-Soprano
New York native and Pittsburgh resident Kara Cornell is a versatile performer who is known as "a singer who can balance impeccable production and phrasing with enthusiastic and colorful dramatics." (Berkshire Review for the Arts) Her expressive portrayal of roles and clear English diction has hailed her "accomplished and electrifying" (Opera Insider) with roles ranging from a "totally endearing" Cinderella (St. Petersburg Times) to a "seductive, wounded, damaged and dangerous" Carmen (The Troy Record). Nationally, Kara has recently performed leading operatic and musical theater roles with Union Avenue Opera (St. Louis), Winter Opera St Louis, Opera Fayetteville (AR) St. Petersburg Opera (FL), Utah Festival Opera and in New York State with Opera Saratoga, Center for Contemporary Opera, Opera Ithaca, Smithtown Theater for the Performing Arts, Upstate Chamber Opera, Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, Mosaic-Arts, Stony Brook Opera, The Madison Theater and Long Island Opera.
Locally, Kara has performed as a mainstage artist with Pittsburgh Festival Opera (Orfeus and Euridice, Carmen the Gypsy, Shining Brow), Pittsburgh Opera (Little Women), Resonance Works (The Bernstein Project, Evidence of Things Not Seen, Falstaff), Nat28 New Music, and was soloist for the premiere and recording of the Pittsburgh Camerata commission of Nancy Galbraith's Sacred Songs and Interludes. In addition to her stage and solo concert performing, Kara is a voice teacher in CMU's drama pre-college program, Seton Hill University and maintains a private studio from her home in O'Hara Township.
George Milosh Tenor
George Milosh, Tenor, is a native of Aliquippa, PA, and a graduate of the Boston Conservatory with a Bachelor of Music degree in voice performance. Since graduating from the Conservatory, George has been seen performing with multiple ensembles and companies throughout the Pittsburgh area. As a member of the professional core of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, he has been featured as a soloist on their performances of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Beethoven’s Mass in C, and Bach’s St. John Passion, the latter two with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. On stage, George has been seen as Alfred in Die Fledermaus with Undercroft Opera, in the trio in Trouble in Tahiti with Resonance Works Pittsburgh, in Frida with Microscopic Opera, and as a member of the Pittsburgh Opera chorus. Also a burgeoning conductor, George is a former choir director at St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church, assistant conductor of Tsar Lazar Serbian Men's Choir, and has prepared choirs for Resonance Works and Undercroft Opera. George is a member of the Chancel Choir at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, is a student of Sari Gruber, and is proud Ravenclaw.
Matthew Hunt Baritone
Matthew Hunt, Baritone has performed with vocal ensembles in the United States, England, and Italy, with a focus on oratorio works. In addition to performing as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Matthew’s oratorio credits include Lucifero in Alessandro Stradella’s Esule dalle Sfere, Pilatus in Bach's St. John Passion, and Lucifero in Handel's La Resurrezione. In Pittsburgh, he has been the baritone soloist in various oratorio and cantata productions including the Mozart Requiem and Carmina Burana. He performed the role of Le Surintendant in the 2015 Resonance Works production of Cendrillon and also performed in the 2016 production of Falstaff and the 2014 production of L'elisir d'amore. As a member of the professional core of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh he performed as a soloist in Giacomo Carissimi's Jephte, Beethoven's Mass in C, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, and Durufle's Requiem.
David Bridge Organist
David Bridge has served churches in Westmoreland, Allegheny and Beaver Counties. As primary musician for the 2006 Synod Assembly of the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he played organ and piano and directed all ensembles. Venue highlights for solo organ recitals include: Heinz Chapel; Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Uniontown; and Lake Lure, North Carolina. A 1998 graduate of St. Vincent College with a bachelor’s in music education, he studied voice with Dr. Curt Scheib, Shirley Huls and Roland Wyatt. He studied piano with Fr. Joseph Bronder, O.S.B. and organ with Edgar B. Highberger. David conducted our Messiah in 2012 and has been organist since 2013. David operates The Bridge Music Studio which provides private lessons for children and adults in piano, voice, and organ. He currently serves as Director of Music and Worship Arts at Salem United Methodist Church in Wexford.