TSC Performing Arts Center to hold annual ‘Messiah’ concert

Dr. Sean Taylor, director of Choral Studies for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, performs on stage with vocalist Lara Alami during last year’s “Messiah & More Christmas” concert at the Texas Southmost College Performing Arts Center. This year’s free public concert is scheduled for Dec. 12. (Courtesy: David Pike)
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The Texas Southmost College Performing Arts Center will ring with the sounds of the season on Dec. 12 with a live performance of the Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah” and other musical selections to get everyone in the spirit.

The free public concert, “Messiah & More Christmas,” will be conducted by Dr. Sean Taylor, director of Choral Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Besides conducting, he’ll perform as a solo vocalist as well as with his a cappella quartet, Alium Spiritum, during the concert. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7 p.m.

Taylor said the performance will feature 150 people on stage, including the UTRGV Master Chorale, Brownsville Festival Chorus and Festival Orchestra, and guest choirs from Porter High School and Harlingen High School South. Other featured soloists are Lara Alami, Richard Diaz Garcia and Diane Walters. Isaac Mancillas, one of Taylor’s students, will share conducting duties.

The Festival Orchestra consists of 25 professional musicians from the Valley, said Taylor, who’s in his eighth year conducting the concert.

“It’s going to be big. Trumpets, timpani, violin, everybody,” he said.

Performers will range in age from 16 to 80, Taylor noted. Parent and children will sing alongside each other, as will students and teachers, he said. The Brownsville Independent School District produced an annual “Messiah” concert for years but hadn’t done it for “a couple of years” when the University of Texas-Brownsville (now UTRGV) and Taylor resumed the tradition in 2016, he said.

The concert is sponsored in part by the Brownsville Society for the Performing Arts, whose president, Michael Quantz, said “Messiah & More Christmas” is one of the first concerts BSPA began to sponsor after the pandemic.

“Back in the day Brownsville had the ‘Messiah’ concert pretty regular,” he said. “High schools, especially, got together. And Dennis Pitcock, who used to teach at BISD, was the conductor, so for quite some time we had the traditional thing.

“Sean Taylor has picked up that mantle. … He organizes the whole thing. He makes sure that the rooms are available for rehearsal. He makes sure the stage is set and decorated. Not only does he conduct and gather the performers and rehearse them, he sings during the performance.”

More than 700 people attended last year, close to capacity for the 798-seat TSC Performing Arts Center, and an equally robust crowd is expected this year, which means get there early to get a good seat, Quantz said.

For more information, visit brosoperformingarts.org.