Holiday with the CWSO: The Messiah

December 10, 2022 @ 7:30 pm

Woodlands Church, Plover

The Program

The CWSO will perform their annual Holidays with the CWSO concert at Woodlands Church in Plover on Saturday, December 10 at 7:30pm. This concert will feature 120 vocalists from Monteverdi Chorale and Wausau Lyric Choir and orchestra presenting The Messiah by George Frideric Handel. The Messiah is one of the most performed works in the history of classical music. It celebrates the meaning of the holiday season and allows us to come together to enjoy Handel’s masterwork as a community.  The CWSO will be joined by four accomplished soloists – Susan Bender (soprano), Chelsea Betz (alto), Dennis Wilhoit (tenor) and Samuel Handley (bass).  

In Collaboration with...

Monteverdi Chorale, founded in 1986, is based in Stevens Point and aims to serve the entire Central Wisconsin community. Singers hail from Portage, Wood, Marathon, Waupaca, and Waushara counties. Monteverdi is pleased to welcome our newest Artistic Director this season, Matheus Cruz. 

The Wausau Lyric Choir is an ecumenical community choir dedicated to excellence in the performance of choral music. The audition-only choir was founded in 1972 and has performed throughout Wisconsin as well as nationally and internationally. 


Tickets Available!

Adult - $45

Senior - $35 (65+)

Student (with I.D.) - $12 (children ages 5-17 years of age and students with ID)


Featured Artists




Part I

         Scene I: Isaiah’s prophecy of salvation

I. Sinfony/Overture

II. Comfort ye my people (tenor)

III. Ev’ry valley shall be exalted (tenor)

IV. And the glory of the Lord (chorus) 


Scene II: The coming judgment

V. Thus saith the Lord of hosts (bass)

VI. But who may abide the day of His coming (chorus)

VII. And he shall purify the sons of Levi (chorus)


Scene 3: The prophecy of Christ’s birth

VIII. Behold, a virgin shall conceive (alto)

IX. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (alto/chorus)

X. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth (bass)

XI. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light (bass)

XII. For unto us a child is born (chorus)




Scene 4: The annunciation to the shepherds

XIII. Pifa (orchestra)

XIV. There were shepherds abiding in the fields (soprano)

a. And the angel said to them (soprano)

b. And suddenly there was with the angel (soprano)

XV. Glory to God in the highest (chorus)


         Scene 5: Christ’s healing and redemption

XVI. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion (soprano)

XVII. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened (alto)

XVIII. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd (alto)

XIX. His yoke is easy (chorus)


 Part III

     Scene 2: The Day of Judgement

XX. Behold, I tell you a mystery (bass)

XXI. The trumpet shall sound (bass)


Part II

      Scene 7: God’s ultimate victory

XXII. Hallelujah chorus



About the Soloists

Susan Bender, Soprano


Susan was a Metropolitan Opera National Council Winner in 1986, the same year she debuted with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. She was a member of the United States Navy Band Sea Chanter Chorus in Washington, D.C. and toured with their premiere wind ensemble as vocal soloist on three national tours. Ms. Bender's recital, oratorio and contemporary performances consistently receive high marks from critics, and she has been nominated twice for her work in musical theatre by the Washington Theatre Guild. She has sung with the Washington Bach Consort, as well as an apprentice performer with the Stoney Brook Bach Group and sang in Madison's Bach Around the Clock. Professor Bender is in her 20th year of teaching at UWSP and serves as Governor for the North Central Region of The National Association of Teachers of Singing.


Chelsea Betz, Mezzo-Soprano


Chelsea holds a BM in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a MM in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from Northwestern University's Beinen School of Music. She serves as a voice teacher and director of the vocal arts program at Falls Baptist College of Ministry as well as her own private studio. Past roles include Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Old Maid in Menotti's Old Maid and the Thief, and L'enfant in Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilege. Chelsea's repertoire includes recent performances of Beethoven's Mass in C Minor (UWSP Symphony Orchestra), Vivaldi's Gloria (CWSO) and many others. She currently serves as a featured soloist and section leader with the prestigious Bel Canto Chorus.

Dennis Willhoit, Tenor


Dennis has sung with the Symphony orchestras of St. Louis, Rockford, Appleton Fox Valley, University of Iowa, and many more. Dr. Willhoit's opera credits include Die Fledermaus, Cosi fan tutti, Carmen, Cenerentola, Falstaff and Aida, where he most recently performed the role of Messenger in a concert production of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared twice as a soloist at Carnegie Hall with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. He is the co-founder of the American Gothic Performing Arts Festival held in Ottumwa, Iowa. Dr. Willhoit has taught at UWSP, Drake University and Coe College. In 2010, he was awarded UWSP's Excellence in Teaching Award. He holds degrees from Simpson College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Iowa, receiving his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance and pedagogy. His scholarly research has focused on the operatic works of Vivaldi.

Sam Handley, Bass Baritone


Sam has been praised for “his rich, burnished” voice and the “genuine emotional depth of his characterizations.” He has performed more than a dozen roles in several opera houses around the United States, including the Lyric Opera House of Chicago, the Santa Fe Opera, and The Metropolitan Opera. A fervent proponent of contemporary composers, Sam has delivered several world premieres, including Wlad Marhulets’ The Property with Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited, and the music of Scott Gendel and Dan Black with the Madison Contemporary Orchestra. Sam currently serves on the faculty of DePaul University in Chicago. He is Vice-President of the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and Executive and Artistic Director of the Green Lake Festival of Music. Sam now resides in Sheboygan, WI with his wife and daughter and their Labrador Finzi.




Do you live in Wausau?

We are offering a Motor Coach Bus from Wausau area to Plover for the December 10th Concert. 
The cost of the bus ticket is $25/person. 
This will alleviate your winter concert transportation stress and get you to and from the concert safely. 
Visit our Transportation Page for more details and information on how to sign up for your ride!


Concert Directions

Woodlands Church Auditorium
190 Hoover Ave, Plover, WI 54467
Go to back of Church and park nearest the Auditorium (you will see signs) and enter through the large doors.
The Performance is right there!
Call 715-345-7726 if you have any questions!