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Mississippi College

MC's Viola Dacus Performs in Holy Land

December 10, 2007

Bethlehem's Manger Square will be the site of a festive Christmas Eve concert with Mississippi College music professor Viola Dacus featured with a solo performance.

"It's quite an honor," said Dacus, who will be part of a traveling chorus from the United States bringing more than 150 voices to the Holy Land. The all-volunteer group of professional, collegiate and church musicians and choir members comes from seven states. At the Bethlehem concert, the MC instructor of voice will give a solo rendition of John Rutter's "I Wish You Christmas."

The U.S. chorus will depart for the Holy Land on Dec. 14. They are on a four-city tour that will also take them to Nazareth, Amman, Jordan and Jerusalem. They will also team up with Israeli and Palestinian musicians on their visit. Their first stop is Nazareth Dec. 17 for a concert at the Tewfic Zayad Educational campus. At that Nazareth concert, Dacus will be the mezzo-soprano solo with the 46-member Carson-Newman College A Capella Choir based at the Baptist school in Tennessee.

Other tour dates: On Dec. 18, the group will perform at the Al Hussein Cultural Center in Amman, Jordan. Dacus is booked that night for a solo with the Carson Newman A Cappella Chorus and the Knoxville (Tenn.) Choral Society. They will perform before Jordan King Abdullah II and Queen Rania. On Dec. 22, she will be among the soloists in concert at the St. George Cathedral in Jerusalem, including a performance of Mozart's "Exsultate Jubilate." The singers conclude their trip with the Dec. 24 concert at Manger Square in Bethlehem, just outside the Basilica of the Nativity. The conductor of the Bethlehem concert is Robert McBain, former music director at Galloway United Methodist Church in Jackson and now the minister of music and worship at a church in Mandeville, La.

The Rev. Sam Morris, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Miss. and adjunct professor at the Jerusalem Institute for Biblical Exploration, organized the musical tour of the Holy Land.

The upcoming tour is called the "Prepare the Way Concert Tour 2007: Peace on Earth, Good Will to All."

The religious aspect of the four-city tour in the Holy Land "certainly seems in keeping with what we associate with Mississippi College," Dacus said. Founded in 1826, MC is the nation's second oldest Baptist college.

A native of Yazoo City, Dacus received a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Mississippi. Her master of music and doctor of music arts degrees were both in vocal performance at Louisiana State University. She has performed with such groups as the Baton Rouge Opera, Ohio Light Opera, Mississippi Opera, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and Manhattan Philharmonic to name a few. Dacus, who teaches studio voice, voice class and song literature at MC, will perform with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra during its 2008-2009 season.

PHOTO: Viola Dacus, Mississippi College music professor