Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to perform Handel’s beloved Messiah in Music Hall Christmastime tradition


The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra reprises its annual tradition of performing the entirety Handel’s beloved classic Messiah at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 21 at Cincinnati’s grand Music Hall. Leading the CSO and the May Festival Chorus for this year’s performance will be Conductor James Bagwell, who also serves as the director of the May Festival Youth Chorus and is a frequent collaborator of the CSO and May Festival. Joining the massive forces of the Orchestra and Chorus will be soprano Abigail Santos, mezzo soprano Abigail Levis, tenor Rufus Müller and bass-baritone Dashon Burton. Of the four internationally acclaimed soloists, three (Ms. Levis, Mr. Müller and Mr. Burton), will be making their CSO debut.

The Orchestra, Chorus and soloists will be performing the entirety of Handel’s Messiah, including Part I (The Advent of the Messiah), which features the popular “Glory to God” chorus, Part II (The Passion of Christ) and Part III with its legendary “Hallelujah” chorus. Tickets for this concert start at just $12 and are available by calling the CSO Box Office at (513) 381-3300 or visiting

Conductor James Bagwell – For twelve seasons, he has been Music Director for the May Festival Youth Choir in Cincinnati, which was recently featured on the radio program From the Top. He has conducted some 25 productions as Music Director of Light Opera Oklahoma, including Candide, Sweeney Todd, and The Merry Widow, among others. At Bard SummerScape he has lead various theatrical works, most notably The Tender Land, which received glowing praise from The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Opera News. He frequently appears as guest conductor for orchestras around the country and abroad, including the Jerusalem Symphony, Tulsa Symphony, and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. For three seasons he was Artistic Director of The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir.

He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College, Florida State University, and Indiana University. He has taught since 2000 at Bard College, where he is the chair of the undergraduate music department and co-director of the graduate program in conducting.