‘Messiah’ rescheduled for Jan. 26

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Beverly Vaughan directing Stockton Oratorio Society in the Hallalujah Chorus Beverly Vaughan directing Stockton Oratorio Society in the Hallalujah Chorus GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – The snow may have kept the Stockton Oratorio Society from performing Handel's "Messiah" on Dec. 8, but under the direction of Beverly Vaughan, the community choir has reloaded and is set to go. The choir will perform at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26 at the Xanadu Theater, inside the Trump Taj Mahal Casino and Resort.

Vaughan issued a call for members to return to practice and get ready to perform. Not only did the original members come back, they have added to their ranks.

"This is amazing and truly a beautiful choir that has come together," Vaughan said. "The Messiah is associated with Christmas, but it really tells a story and that story is timeless."

Karen Aspenberg of Egg Harbor Township and her granddaughter Myranda, the youngest voice in the more than 100-member chorus, were on their way to the Trump Taj Mahal on Dec. 8 when they received the call the show would be cancelled due to the weather.

"Myranda cried when we were unable to sing earlier, so we were excited to come back and have a chance to sing again," Aspenberg said.

Vaughn, professor of Music at Stockton and director of the Stockton Chorale and Oratorio Society, said, "We feel so fortunate and excited to have another opportunity to present this magnificent work now, at the beginning of a new year. The enthusiasm and sound of the choir members who sang during our first rehearsal on Jan. 6 brought tears to my eyes."

She invited members of the public who want to participate to come to rehearsals or attend the show.

"I believe this performance will be very special with deep meaning for our entire community," Vaughn said.

The production unites people from across the region, including Preston Forchion, owner of one of the deepest bass voices you'll ever hear.

"People come up to me in restaurants and say, ‘I love your voice,'" he said. “My wife finds it annoying sometimes."

Forchion of Sicklerville has been singing the Messiah since 1996, during the time he drove gamblers into Atlantic City. While he waited for them, he decided to check out the chance to sing in a community choir at Stockton, and has been coming back ever since.

Sally Russell and her daughter Sarah, both of Hamilton Township, will be singing and Sarah will also be dancing and signing during the production.

Aspenberg, Forchion and Russell all commented on Vaughn's contribution to the event.

"I love watching her direct. She's very animated. She's phenomenal as far as a director, and I have been under many directors,'' Russell said. "She can pull the music out of you."

"Beverly Vaughn is a very unique lady," Forchion said. "What I love about her is her energy and I like the way, when she realizes that we're not singing with the right gusto or enthusiasm, she will break it down and tell us the meaning of it from the Bible...and it means more to you now. I don't even call it rehearsal, I call it music class. She is a professor."

Vaughn urged anyone interested in being part of the concert, even those who were not part of the previously scheduled show, to come to open rehearsal from 7 to 8:45 p.m. on Jan. 20. The rehearsal will be held in the Alton Auditorium on the second floor of the A-Wing of Stockton's main campus.

For more information about participating in the performance, call Brian Lyons at 609-652-4891, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Tickets previously purchased for the concert that was cancelled due to snow will be re-issued. Tickets are $8-$12 and are available at Stockton's Performing Arts Center Box Office, M-Wing, 101 Vera King Farris Dr. Call (609) 652-9000, or visit stocktonpac.org/event/handels-messiah. Tickets will also be available at the door of the Xanadu Theater in Trump Taj Mahal on the night of the performance.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit scholarships for Stockton students.

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