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Waukesha Choral Union Presents Free Concert of Handel’s “Messiah”

Feb. 15, 2013

The Waukesha Choral Union will present George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” as a free gift to the community on Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. in Shattuck Auditorium on the Carroll University campus. Artistic director Ernest “Ernie” Brusubardis III will conduct this performance comprised of choir, orchestra, and soloists. The choir is made up of Waukesha Choral Union members and volunteer community singers. Soloists for the Waukesha Choral Union production are: Kristin Wrolstad, Soprano; Jillian Bruss, Alto; Curtis Bannister, Tenor; and Brian Leeper, Bass.

Waukesha Choral Union has been performing Handel’s “Messiah” or Haydn’s “Creation” as a free concert annually for over three decades. This longstanding tradition is funded by area businesses, foundations, and benefactors as well as through generous donations from patrons. Brusubardis is “Delighted that all facets of the greater Waukesha community come together to create, perform, experience, and enjoy.”

Handel’s “Messiah” is one of the most popular works in the Western choral literature. The libretto by Charles Jennens is drawn entirely from the King James and Great Bibles, and interprets the Christian doctrine of the Messiah. Composed in London during the summer of 1741 and premiered in Dublin, Ireland on 13 April 1742, it was repeatedly revised by Handel, reaching its most familiar version in the performance to benefit the Foundling Hospital in 1754. The work is divided into three parts, which address specific events in the life of Christ. Part One is primarily concerned with the Advent and Christmas stories. Part Two chronicles Christ's passion, resurrection, ascension, and the proclamation to the world of the Christian message. Part Three is based primarily upon the events chronicled in the Book of Revelation.

Community singers interested in joining the performance must attend three rehearsals:
• Sunday, March 10, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. at Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University.
• Tuesday, March 12, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church.
• Saturday, March 16, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. at Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University.
Music will be provided. To sing “Messiah” with Waukesha Choral Union contact the membership chairperson by e-mail at or call 262-893-6309. Shattuck Auditorium is located at 100 North E. Ave., Waukesha. Christ the Servant Lutheran Church is located at 2016 Center Road, Waukesha.

One concert remains in the Waukesha Choral Union’s 2012 – 2013 “Spirit of Creativity” season:
• Saturday, May 4, 2012, “Something Old & Something New” at Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University. Performance repertoire includes Haydn’s “Little Organ Mass,” excerpts of Handel’s “Chandos Anthems,” and “Innocence and Reflections,” the world premiere of a new commissioned work by Paula Foley Tillen.

For more information, visit

Ernest Brusubardis III, artistic director of the Waukesha Choral Union, is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee with the Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Music and the Master’s Degree in Music Education with an emphasis on choral conducting. His other choral directorships include the advanced ensembles of Hartford Union High School and the Brusubardis-Dzimtene Latvian Choir. He also serves as music director for many community theater productions throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.

Kristin Wrolstad, soprano of Watertown, WI, is now in her eleventh season with the Florentine Opera Company Chorus. While there, she has appeared as a Handmaiden in “Turandot,” Aunt in “Madama Butterfly,” Sylviane in “The Merry Widow,” and the third Apparition in “Macbeth.” She also has performed in a variety of Florentine’s educational and outreach programs. Concert appearances include the French National Anthem with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Mozart’s Exultate, Jubilate with the UW Milwaukee orchestra. Kristin has been a Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition, Iowa District winner, along with being a Civic Music Association Recital Winner. In addition, she has a private voice and piano studio in Watertown. Kristin has enjoyed singing Handel’s “Messiah” with the Waukesha Choral Union twice before.

Jillian Bruss, alto, resides in the Milwaukee area and has performed both here and abroad in concert, opera and oratorio. She has performed with the Florentine Opera in both main stage and outreach programs, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Dallas Opera, Milwaukee Choral Artists, Milwaukee Youth Symphony, Waukesha Choral Union, Master Singers, Bel Canto Chorus, Milwaukee Choristers and Lutheran Acapella. Jillian has performed in Norway and Denmark, countries of her grandfathers, with Paula Foley Tillen. She recorded a CD of the recital featuring a premiere commissioned work of Paula’s for the concert tour. Jillian is now the Development Manager of the Florentine Opera. She was General Manager of the Milwaukee Opera Theatre from 2005-2011. She has conducted the women’s ensemble Women of Note and enjoys coaching young singers privately and at UW-Parkside. Jillian is a graduate of UW-Stevens Point in Music Education and of the University of Illinois – Champaign Urbana with a Masters degree in Vocal Performance.

Curtis Bannister, tenor, is an award recipient of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He joined the Sarasota Opera as an Apprentice Artist for the 2011 and 2012 Festival Seasons where he debuted with the company as Arturo in “Lucia di Lammermoor” and covered the role of John Cheever in Ward’s “The Crucible.” For the Apprentice Artist program, Curtis sang the title roles in Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito,” Mascagni’s “L’amico Fritz,” and Faust in Boito’s “Mefistofele.” In 2011, Curtis made his professional theater debut in a Shakespearian role as Aaron in “Titus Andronicus” with Stillpointe Theatre Initiative and sang Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” and “Vesparae Solennes de Confessore” with the St. John Cantius Resurrection Choir and Orchestra. In 2008, He originated the role of Sheldon Segal in the world premiere of John Musto’s “Later the Same Evening” with Maryland Opera Studio and the National Gallery of Art. In April 2010, Curtis made his international recital debut of French Melodie and Spirituals for the Musée du Louvre (Musique de Chambre) in Paris. Past concert performances include Beethoven’s “Mass in C,” Handel’s “Messiah,” Mozart’s “Vesparae Solennes de Confessore,” Bach’s “Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen” and “The St. John Passion,” Britten’s “War Requiem,” Tippet’s “A Child of Our Time,” Rossini’s “Stabat Mater,” and Haydn’s “St. Theresa” and “St. Nicholas Mass.”

Brian Leeper, bass, is the Vocal Area Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he teaches Studio Voice, Vocal Pedagogy and directs the Opera Workshop. In 2011, Brian is also Artistic Director of “La Musica Lirica,” a five-week intensive opera program in Novafeltria, Italy. He is currently President of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Brian has performed over twenty major roles with opera companies in the US and abroad, including a national radio broadcast concert performance of “Candide” with the Cleveland Orchestra. Solo appearances in the past three seasons include Haydn’s “Creation,” the “St. John Passion,” “Messiah,” “Elijah,” “Don Pasquale,” “L’Elisir d’Amore,” “Die Fledermaus” and a concert of Chopin and Musical Theatre in Krakow, Poland. Brian formerly served on the voice faculties of Butler University, Operafestival di Roma and Lutheran Summer Music. He holds degrees from Luther College and The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and has done further graduate study at the Florida State University.

Waukesha Choral Union has been musically active in the community for over 60 years. WCU was featured in WISN-TV’s “Season to Celebrate” broadcast during Christmas of 2011. Originally a combination of Carroll College students and community singers, it took its present form as an auditioned choir in 1978. Waukesha Choral Union derives its strength and quality from its members’ passion for singing and is always seeking new voices. Auditions are held by appointment. Recent collaborative partners include the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Oconomowoc Chamber Orchestra, Bel Canto Chorus, Milwaukee Choristers, Carroll University Choirs, and the choirs of Waukesha South High School, Muskego High School, and Hartford Union High School. For more information visit

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