Artistic director Burger to lead Schenectady’s Octavo Singers performance of Messiah at Union

The Octavo Singers perform Handel’s Messiah at a past concert. (Gazette file photo)

The Octavo Singers perform Handel’s Messiah at a past concert. (Gazette file photo)

SCHENECTADY – The Octavo Singers of Schenectady will resume its tradition of performing Handel’s Messiah on Saturday at Union College Memorial Chapel. The concert will begin at 3 p.m.

An audience favorite, this will be the Octavos’ 85th presentation of the cherished work.

Andrew Burger, who was appointed artistic director after Curtis Funk’s departure in June, will conduct the Octavo Singers and the Octavo Chamber Orchestra. Michael Emery is concertmaster and Trevor Kahlbaugh is accompanist.

The tradition was halted over the past few seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vocal soloists for the performance will be Jean Leonard, soprano; Ann Marie Adamick, alto; Casey Gray, tenor; and Richard Mazzaferro, bass.

Tickets, at $30, or $25 for seniors and students, are available at the door and online.

Parking is available in several lots near the chapel and a free shuttle will be running to the chapel from the Union College parking lot near the corner of Nott Street and Seward Place.

For more information and to inquire about group rates, call (518) 380-6938 or go to

Messiah has been a staple of choral literature since it premiered in Dublin in 1742. The Octavo Singers have performed the work annually, with a few exceptions, since the 1970s, and have recently begun a tradition of inviting the audience to stand and sing along during the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

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Burger, a Niskayuna native, is the fourth conductor in the history of the Octavo Singers.

In addition to helming the Octavo Singers, he is artistic director of the Northern Berkshire Chorale in Williamstown, Mass., and director of music ministries at Niskayuna Reformed Church.

His posts have included adjunct professor and former director of choruses at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and chorus director for the Albany Symphony. He studied conducting at Bard College under James Bagwell and conducted a number of groups at Bard.

After 11 years of directing the Octavo Singers, Funk decided to step down from the artistic director’s podium. During his tenure, he rehearsed and conducted 26 concerts, including annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, and was instrumental in growing the chorus in both size and sound.

Per Union College policy: All visitors should have completed their initial COVID-19 vaccination series. Individuals experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should ensure they test negative before visiting the campus.

Masks are optional. Frequent hand washing is recommended and encouraged during your visit.

Funding for the event was made possible in part by a grant from the Schenectady County Legislature through its County Initiative Program.

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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Schenectady

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