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Oratorio Chorus

Academics / Departments & Programs / Music / Ensembles / Oratorio Society

Oratorio Chorus is a large community chorus that presents Handel’s Messiah each December. Membership is open to all Calvin students, alumni, and community members who meet the demands of vocal technique and musicianship.

Rehearsal information: Mondays, 7:30-9:30pm (Calvin University's Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall) 

Performance information: Friday, December 6 at 7:30pm and Saturday, December 7 at 3:00pm (Calvin University's Covenant Fine Arts Center Auditorium)  


Sean Ivory's staff picture
Sean Ivory

Adjunct Faculty
Calvin Oratorio Society, Calvin Alumni Choir

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Emily Duff's staff picture
Emily Duff

Community Music Administrator

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  • History

    One hundred and five years ago, the Calvin Oratorio Society made its debut with the first of its now traditional Christmas season performances of Handel's Messiah. 

    Since that time, the Calvin Oratorio Society has grown under the outstanding leadership of its music directors: Reese Veatch (1920–1923), Seymour Swets (1923–1967), Harold Geerdes (1967–1981), Howard Slenk (1981–1998), Pearl Shangkuan (1998–2003), Joel Navarro (2003–2014), Sean Ivory (2014–2019), Aaron Polet (2020), John Varineau (2021–2022) and Sean Ivory (2023). 

    Since its founding, the Oratorio Society has performed many of the greatest oratorios of our time. In addition to the annual performances of Handel's Messiah, the Society's performances have ranged from a staged version of Mendelssohn's Elijah to a United States premiere of MISA 2000, a work by celebrated Filipino composer Ryan Cayabyab. 

    Other highlights of past performances include works by Bach (Easter Oratorio, St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion), Brahms (Requiem), Handel (Saul), Haydn (Creation), Mendelssohn (St. Paul), Mozart (Exultate), Rutter (Requiem), and Vaughan Williams (Five Mystical Songs). 

  • Auditions

    New Member Auditions- If you are a student, a new member of the Oratorio Society or haven’t participated in the ensemble during the 2021, 22’ or 23’ season, please sign up for an audition time using this link. Auditions are set to take place in the evenings on Wednesday, September 4 and Thursday, September 5 from 6-8pm each evening. 

  • Members

    Returning Members- If you participated in Oratorio Society any season since 2021 and would like to participate in the 2024 season, please sign up using this link. 

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