This Sunday, April 9, the Axtell Area Oratorio Society will present George Frideric Handel’s Messiah at the Merryman Performing Arts Center in Kearney. Starting at 7:00 p.m. on Palm Sunday, concert attendees will witness one of the longest running traditions on the Merryman stage. For fifty-nine years the Oratorio Society has presented the Messiah and from the beginning, J. Rodney Wendell of Axtell has conducted the marvelous soloists, chamber orchestra and 70 member choir.
Mr. Wendell taught music in the Axtell School from 1950 to 1994. He also served as the organist and choir director of the Keene Evangelical Free Church for over 60 years and has taught piano, organ and voice lessons privately as well. Many members of the choir had Mr. Wendell as a teacher when they were younger.
The tradition of the Messiah has remained strong all these years in great part due to the musicians loyalty to Wendell and to the music itself. The dates on the program indicate when the choir members joined the Messiah Chorus. Three members, Alto Dorothy Berggren, Tenor Carol Wells, and Bass Clark Abrahamson, have been involved from the beginning concert in 1958. It isn’t uncommon for two or three generations of families to sing in the same concert.
see April 5 Courier for full story