Annual Handel's Messiah Sing-Along Concert Series


A Message From Music Director Brian Burns

Dear fellow choristers, instrumentalists, soloists, and supporters:

I hope you are all doing well and finding great ways to make music! I'm sorry to report that, unfortunately, we will again not be able to move forward with our Messiah production this year. Our church has returned to COVID protocols for indoor spaces which includes wearing masks and reduced seating capacity in the building. Our number one goal is to keep people safe and healthy so that we ALL can return to a proper sense of normalcy in a timely fashion. I can't really come up with any practical way to squeeze enough musicians and guests into the space to make the production feasible and fiscally responsible. Unfortunately, we will have to wait another year to bring our concert back to life

With that announcement, I would like to extent the possibility of a Spring 2022 concert of some form, if our Covid mitigation needs are reduced. Please feel free to share any comments or concerns directly with me. I would love to hear what you're thinking.

If you are looking for an outlet for your musical gifts, you may consider joining our Renewal Choir and handbell choir. Rehearsal times have yet to be finalized, but most likely will be on Tuesday evenings.

Thank you,

Brian Burns

Music Director, Calvary United Methodist Church

2019 Concert Information


Bask in Handel's inspiring Messiah while surrounded by candlelight and Calvary's magnificent Tiffany stained-glass masterpieces.

This will be our ninth year bringing this Calvary tradition to the Pittsburgh area. Each year we like to do something different than the year prior. This year we are welcoming as our special guest The Chancel Choir (Director, Tim Coles) from First United Methodist Church in Shadyside, Pittsburgh. In addition, we have increased the number of musicians in the Chamber Orchestra as well as added bassoon and oboe.

Two years ago our Festival Choir caught the attention of DCINY (Distinguished Concerts International New York) and was invited to sing the Messiah at Carnegie Hall in New York City over Thanksgiving weekend 2018. It was a tremendous honor to be invited to sing. It was also well-deserved recognition for our choir members' accomplishments since the concert began in 2011, and it was a dream come true - something many of us never thought possible. Come join us as we continue our amazing journey!

We will be performing the “Christmas” portion of Messiah. Calvary's Music Director Brian Burns conducts the event which includes popular regional soloists, a chamber orchestra comprised of some of the area's most accomplished instrumentalists, and the Festival Choir. David Bridge, a past conductor and organist, is at the parlor organ and Calvary's restored 1895 Farrand & Votey organ. The concert is followed by a cookie reception in the Victorian Chapel.

The concert is family-friendly - each child 12 and under will receive an activity pack. This concert is also a sing-along. As an audience member you are not required to sing, but you are certainly invited to sing along on each of the choruses sung by the Festival Choir.

We also offer this concert in support of outreach ministries on Pittsburgh's Northside. This year, as in years past, we ask audience members to bring non-perishable food items and extra shopping tote bags for Northside Common Ministries Food Pantry. Also, tickets are given to neighborhood schools, smaller churches, and groups such as Tickets for Kids.

It's a fantastic way to kick off the holiday season, and we invite everyone to join in 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.

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, The Butler Symphony, 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, Washington & Jefferson College, and maintains a private studio from her home near Aspinwall.

Kirk Dougherty Tenor

This season, Mr. Dougherty performs as Leicester in Maria Stuarda with Piedmont Opera, as Alfredo in La traviata with Opera Southwest, and as the title role in Les contes d'Hoffmann with Opera Delaware where he will also appear as a soloist in their Winter Opera Jukebox concert. Last season, Mr. Dougherty performed the role of Rodolfo in La bohème with Salt Marsh Opera; Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with Knoxville Opera; Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Raylynmor Opera; and Cavaradossi in a concert production of Tosca with Helena Symphony and in full production with NJ Festival Orchestra. He also performed the tenor solo in Verdi’s Requiem with Allentown Symphony, performed as a soloist in concert with Opera Delaware, sang the role of Cavaradossi/Rodolfo in “Puccini at the Pendry” concert with Maryland Opera, and Handel’s Messiah with National Chorale.

Other recent engagements include the role of Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto with Opera Las Vegas, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Bob Jones University, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Glacier Symphony as part of their Festival Amadeus, Mozart’s Solemn Vespers for MidAmerica Productions at Carnegie Hall, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicci/Buoso’s Ghost with Opera Delaware, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Rodolfo in La bohème and the tenor solo in Stabat Mater with Wichita Grand Opera, Nikolaus Sprink in Silent Night with Piedmont Opera, and Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre. Other recent appearances included a return to Anchorage Opera as Don José in Carmen and Verdi’s Requiem with the New Jersey Choral Society.

Mr. Dougherty made his Opera San José début as the Duke in Rigoletto, and later returned to the house as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, his role début of Cavaradossi in Tosca, and the role of Don José in Carmen. Additionally, Kirk performed the role Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for Anchorage Opera. Previous seasons include his company débuts with Sarasota Opera in the role of Manrico in Il Trovatore, the American Symphony Orchestra portraying Aaron in Bruch's oratorio Moses at Carnegie Hall, the Glacier Symphony performing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Salt Marsh Opera as Ernesto in Don Pasquale, and the title role in Faust for Opera Louisiane.

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.

Messiah Festival Choir Choruses

  • And the Glory of the Lord
  • O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion
  • For Unto Us a Child is Born
  • And He Shall Purify
  • Glory to God
  • His Yoke Is Easy, and His Burthen Is Light
  • Hallelujah Chorus

Frequently Asked Questions

Is your church handicapped accessible?

Our historic church building (including the sanctuary, fellowship hall, and the restrooms) is accessible to those with wheelchairs or walkers. There is an elevator to take you to the basement level. The handicapped accessible restroom is located on the main floor near the kitchen.

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Parking is free and plentiful!

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