The mission of Voices of Omaha is to present an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah without admission charge as a gift to the community. Voices of Omaha is committed to development of a diverse audience and chorus membership by maintaining relevance in the present, and nurturing musicians of all ages to assure an audience and chorus for the future.
Voices of Omaha gave its first performance of Handel’s Messiah on December 14, 1969, in the Omaha Civic Auditorium. Chorus, soloists, and orchestra were directed by the late Leota Sneed Strong. Since then, the chorus has been conducted by artistic directors:
- Thomas Brantigan
- Michael Dryver
- Z. Randall Stroope
- Greg Zielke
- Stanley E. Schmidt
- Edward B. Hurd
- Paul L. Koenig
Two charter members sing with the choir: Sharon Struve and Gloria Taber.
The 1969 concert was a gift to the community with no admission charge. Chorus members pay dues, hold fundraisers, and even pay for the poinsettias on the stage. The audience assists by participating in a free-will offering. Additional funding is provided generously by:
- Nebraska Arts Council
- Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation
- Giger Foundation (in memory of Ruth Musil Giger)
- Whitmore Charitable Trust
- Omaha Community Foundation/OmahaGives! campaign
The chorus launched a seven-year strategic Growth Project in 2011. The project addresses image, chorus/audience diversity, and educational outreach to build the membership and audience for the future. The Growth Project is leading the chorus toward its 50th performance of Messiah in 2018. Read about the project in two noteworthy articles by Chorus America, 2014: “Extreme Makeover: Community Chorus Edition.”
Sing in the Chorus
Chorus membership is open to all members of the community. No audition is required. Complete information about singing with Voices of Omaha is downloadable in English and Spanish. Advance registration opens each June!