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85th Annual Messiah Festival of the Arts
17 Dec 2013
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The 85th Annual Messiah Festival of the Arts takes place on April 11-20, 2014.

Pastor Olof Olsson and his wife Anna, together with nearly 200 settlers from the Sunnemo Parish in Värmland, arrived in the Smoky Valley of central Kansas in June 1869. They settled on land purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad, and set about founding Bethany Lutheran Church and the community of Lindsborg.

The Bethany Oratorio Society was founded in December 1881, when 40 parishioners were welcomed to the parsonage of Pastor Swensson and his wife Alma to learn the words and music of Messiah.  Almost all of them were immigrants from Sweden who still lived in a pioneer world of sod houses.  Alma Swensson, an accomplished musician, worked with the singers throughout the winter and spring in helping them learn the music as well as the English words. The first performance by the Bethany Oratorio Society was on March 28, 1882, in Bethany Lutheran Church. 

Every Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday since, the College and the people of Lindsborg have come together to perform Handel’s great oratorio.  The annual tradition continues today as the oldest continuous annual performance of the Messiah in the United States.

In addition to the music of Handel and Bach during Holy Week, the Midwest Art Exhibition is hosted by the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery.  The exhibition features works by regional artists as well as works from the permanent collection.  The founders of this exhibition in 1899 were Carl Gustafson Lotave, G.N. Malm, and Sandzén.  Lotave studied at the Royal Academy of Art.  Both Lotave and Sandzén studied with Anders Zorn and Richard Berg.

This event is featured on the Year of the Rural Arts Calendar of Events. For more information on the Year of the Rural Arts, visit www.artoftherural.org

Performance Song Academia Community Heritage Spirituality & Religion Festival/Celebration Midwest Messiah Music Rural YORA
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