LINDSBORG — The Messiah Festival of the Arts proudly announces the major concert events and theme for its 2018 season. This year’s Festival is titled “Community” and will feature a wide variety of art, music and theatrical events during the 10-day schedule beginning March 22 and continuing through Easter on April 1.

The festival features two new events this year. Join in singing with the featured soloists, the Bethany Oratorio Society Chorus, and the full Bethany Oratorio Orchestra to one of the most beloved choral works in Western music for the first Palm Sunday “Messiah Sing-Along” in historic Presser Hall Auditorium.

Tickets are $10 and scores will be available at the door for an additional $10. This event takes place March 25 at 3 p.m. Then, on Good Friday, the Bethany Oratorio Society is bringing Bach’s “Passion According to St. Matthew” to a more sacred setting as it was originally presented in 1727. The performance will take place in Bethany Lutheran Church, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. This is a one-of-a-kind event. Tickets are $20 and $30 and seating is of limited availability.

Dr. Mark Lucas, Bethany College professor of music and conductor of the Bethany Oratorio Society, hopes that audiences and performers will experience and embrace the idea of community at the Festival. Events like the Messiah Sing-Along, the Jazz Walk, and various artistic endeavors, along-side the traditional Holy Week performances of Bach’s “Passion According to St. Matthew,” and Handel’s “Messiah,” are about bringing people together in new and in time-honored ways.

“We are doing some things differently while keeping the tradition alive and well,” Lucas said. “I am especially excited for this year’s events.”

The Messiah Festival will partner with the Lindsborg Landmark Concert series when it opens its second season with the Lindsborg Jazz Walk.

The Jazz Walk will take place on March 23 from 7 to 10 p.m. in historic downtown Lindsborg and will feature celebrated Kansas City percussionist and Bethany graduate, Brandon Draper, class of 2001. The walk will begin in the evening and feature different styles of jazz at different locations on Main Street.

From blues to world music, the audience will be treated to a wide variety of styles of jazz that complement the unique locations throughout the walk. Draper will bring widely acclaimed and talented friends to help create the unique experiences at each location.

A theatre production of the “Easter Vigil Readings” is March 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Pearson Chapel of Performing Arts at Bethany College. The performance is free and open to the public.

Join speaker Dr. Mari Jørstad for a talk on “Living Landscapes: Community and Creation,” March 26 at 6 p.m. in the Pearson Chapel.

Jørstad is a research associate at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. She provides support for Facing the Anthropocene, a project under the Ethics and Environmental Policy Program Area.

Following the lecture, the Grace University Choir will perform at 7:30 p.m. This is a must-see event as Grace University Choir has announced that this is their final tour.

The Bethany Oratorio Society will perform its celebrated and rich performance of G.F. Handel’s “Messiah” on Easter Sunday, April 1 at 3 p.m. The Bethany Oratorio Society has been performing Handel’s “Messiah” continuously since 1882. During Holy Week each year in Lindsborg, the more than 300 member community chorus and orchestra are joined by professional operatic guest soloists for the performances. Guest soloists this year include: Victoria Fraser, soprano; Clara Osowski, mezzo-soprano; Roy Heilman, tenor; and Kyle Ferrill, bass. Tickets are $30 and $25.

“I want to stress that all are invited to sing Handel’s ‘Messiah,’” Lucas said. “Rehearsals begin Jan. 28 at 3 p.m. in Presser Hall. New singers should arrive at 2:30 p.m. for a brief vocal hearing. Those wishing to sing ‘Messiah’ may attend Sunday only rehearsals. I would love to see more people join us.”

Tickets for each concert are on sale now. They can be purchased online at www.messiahfestival.org/shop/ or by calling the Messiah Festival office at 785- 227-8229, ext. 8235. For all ticketing information as well as a complete festival calendar, go to www.messiahfestival.org.

Additional events in the Messiah Festival schedule include the 120th Midwest Art Exhibit at the Birger Sandzén Gallery, the Messiah Juried Student Art Exhibition at the Mingenback Art Center Gallery, Symphonic Band Concert, Student Honors Recital, and “Messiah Soloists” Recital.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service.

For more information, visit http://bethanylb.edu.