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Oratorio Society

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

One hundred and four 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), and John Varineau (2021-2022). 

Chorus members are of all ages and from all walks of life; all have considerable choral singing experience, and some are professional musicians and music teachers.

The Oratorio Society performs at the Covenant Fine Arts Center Auditorium on the Calvin's campus, near the intersection of Burton and the East Beltline.

2023 Season

For over 100 years, the Calvin Oratorio Society has heralded the arrival of the Christmas season with performances of Handel’s Messiah. This year’s 90-minute version will feature nine movements for full chorus and solos and have no intermission. We’re pleased to welcome back Sean Ivory as the conductor for the 2023 Season. The chorus brings together students, staff, faculty, alumni, and other community members.  

The performances will take place at the Covenant Fine Arts Center on Friday, December 1, at 7:30 pm and Saturday, December 2, at 3:00 pm. Tickets are available through the Calvin University Box Office. We hope you’ll join us!

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Explore Oratorio Society

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).


Thank you for your interest. Audition information will be posted at a later date. Please check back.



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