Dr. John V. Sinclair
Dr. Sinclair has served as Music Director and Conductor of the Messiah Choral Society for the past 29 years. He also serves as Music Director and Conductor of the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. Dr. Sinclair serves Rollins College as the Department Chair and the John M. Tiedtke Endowed Chair of Music. He earned his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Musically, he is known for creative interpretations, an expressive conducting style, and innovative programming. During the past 18 years, he has made more than 700 appearances as conductor, clinician, or lecturer in many states and foreign countries, including Mass at the Vatican. In addition, he conducts performances of the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT, directs the Moravian Music Festivals, and participates in recording projects for Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Company. A master teacher, Dr. Sinclair has received many awards, including Rollins College’s: the Hugh F. McKean Teaching Award, Barton Teaching Award, Distinguished Service Award, the Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rollins College Student Government Association. Also, his Alma Mater, William Jewell College, honored him with their prestigious “Citation for Achievement.”
For two consecutive years, he was named the “Outstanding Music Educator of the Year” by United Arts of Central Florida and he was listed as a Florida International Magazine Power Player in the Arts. Dr. Sinclair founded the Bach Festival Society’s Arts-in-Education program, which brings programs to thousands of area students, and founded the Rollins College Community School of Music.
Our 2019 Soloists
Soprano, Anna Eschbach, is an active performer and private voice instructor in the Central Florida area. She earned her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Appalachian State University and a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Tennessee. Born and raised in Orlando, Ms. Eschbach has performed with numerous ensembles and orchestras throughout Florida, including Opera Orlando, the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, the Orlando Philharmonic, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, and the Villages Philharmonic.
Known for her performance in oratorio, her guest solo appearances include Saint-Saens' Oratorio de Noel, Mozart's Vesperae Solennes, Poulenc's Gloria, Rutter's Gloria and Magnificat, Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony, as well as Orff’s Carmina Burana. Her operatic roles include Adina in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s Albert Herring, Mary Warren in Robert Ward’s The Crucible, and Rose in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. Ms. Eschbach has toured throughout Europe singing recitals in Switzerland, the UK, and Kenya.
Since moving back to Orlando in 2013, Ms. Eschbach has maintained a thriving private voice studio in the Orlando area and serves on the voice faculty at Rollins College. She performs full time with the Basilica Choir of Mary, Queen of the Universe, as well as with her all-female a capella group, Helena, and the Festival Singers of Florida.
This year’s performances included the role of Anne Boleyn in an original show about the wives of Henry VIII for the 2019 Orlando Fringe Festival in conjunction with Opera Orlando. Her performance was hailed by the Orlando Sentinel as "soul-shattering." She is currently serving as studio artist for Opera Orlando where she recently appeared as Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro.
Sarah Purser, mezzo soprano, is a Central Florida based singer, songwriter, voice teacher, and choral director. She earned her master of arts in music and bachelor of music education degrees from the University of Central Florida. Ms. Purser is an adjunct professor of voice at Valencia College as well as the choral director and music theory instructor at Bishop Moore High School. Sarah sang with the Orlando Opera Company from 2001-2009, and currently enjoys singing roles with Opera Orlando. She also serves as the coordinator for Opera Orlando’s Studio Artist program.
Sarah has been a featured soloist with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and frequently performs recitals and concerts throughout Central Florida. Recent performances include a number with Opera Orlando; Jane Seymore in Opera Orlando’s original production of 6/VIII; The Six Wives of Henry the VIII, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, The Dominatrix in Safe Word, and Tisbe in Cenerentola. She has also performed several roles with UCF opera, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Orlando Light Opera, and Musiktheater Bavaria including Olga in the Merry Widow, Meg Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Terentia in Captain Lovelock, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, and Stefano in Romeo et Juliette. She is looking forward to singing the role of Marcellina in Opera Orlando’s upcoming production of Marriage of Figaro.
Ms. Purser is a founding member of the professional women’s vocal ensemble, The Helena Collective whose recent collaboration with Opera Orlando on their original production “6/VIII: The Six Wives of Henry VIII” received accolades and won critic’s choice award at the Orlando Fringe Festival. Sarah also enjoying singing with the Basilica Choir at the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, and performing with her original music project, The Sarah Purser Band alongside her handsome, bass-wielding husband Marco.
Dr. John Grau
Tenor John Grau has performed oratorio and opera from Renaissance to 20th century music. He is an accomplished concert soloist, having recently performed as the tenor soloist in the major works of Bach, the Evangelist in Schütz’s Weihnachtshistorie, the tenor soloist in Mozart’s Requiem, the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610, and as the tenor soloist in numerous Handel oratorios.
On the operatic stage, he has recently appeared as Flute in Britten’s A Midsummer Nights Dream, Bardolfo in Falstaff, Dr. Blind in Fledermaus, Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, The Tenor Priest in The Magic Flute, and Henrik in A Little Night Music. John is also a frequent recitalist and is a regular at early music festivals throughout the country. As a strong advocate for contemporary music, John's recent solo performances include the tenor premier of the ASCAP Mortorn Gould Young Composer Award for Abbie Betinis’s Nattsanger, and Alec Roth’s Songs In Time Of War in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
John received his BA in biology and music from St. Olaf College, his Masters in vocal performance from Northern Arizona University, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in vocal performance from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Grau has previously taught at The University of Colorado-Boulder, and at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Dr. Grau's scholarly activities contribute to the vocal pedagogy field. He has presented his research on developing tenor voices using excerpts from Handel oratorio arias at the Minnesota Music Educators Association, and at the National Association of Teachers of Singing convention in July of 2014. Dr. Grau is a frequent clinician and maintains a thriving private voice studio around Orlando, Florida. He lives with his wife, two children, and black labrador outside of Orlando, and enjoys running marathons.
Stephen Mumbert is quickly gaining attention on the concert and opera stage throughout the United States and England. Stephen was recently praised for being “vocally, the most promising singer” and for “possessing an assured and stylish technique” for his interpretation of the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Aldeburgh Festival in England. Stephen is a graduate of Stetson University where he holds a B.M. in voice performance, and he also holds an M.M. in opera from The Boston Conservatory. Recent performances have included Rodrigo in Bellini’s I Puritani with Minnesota Concert Opera, Mozart’s Requiem with the Dakota Valley Symphony (which was broadcast on Twin Cities Public Television), Handel’s Messiah with the Oratorio Society of Minneapolis, the Village Philharmonic, and the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra, Wilfred Shadbolt in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Yeomen of the Guard with the G&S Very Light Opera Company, Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni with First Coast Opera, King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors with the Dakota Valley Symphony, and a new opera project performing the lead roles of Guildenstern in Herschel Garfein’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Hopkins in Robert Aldridge's Sister Carrie staged with the respective Grammy award winning composers in residence. Upcoming performances include a return to the Space Coast Symphony for Handel’s Messiah and the Stars Sing Broadway Concert, as well as caroling around central Florida with the Dicken’s Carolers.
Please enjoy this video, captured at our 2012 annual performance.
The Choral Society Choir
The Choir consists of members from all walks of life. It averages about 40 Sopranos, 50 Altos, 20 Tenors and 20 Basses. Many of the members have been with the Society over ten years. Gene Tate, a Bass, has been singing with the Society from its origin in 1973, a total of 45 years, but we welcome fresh faces and voices.
Auditions are not required but a good singing voice is certainly welcome. We would love to have you join us. If you are unable to be a Society singer, then we wholeheartedly invite you to become an Associate Member.
Whether you sing with us or are a member of our audience, you’ll be sure to have an unparalleled artistic experience, the result of our dedication in performing this most magnificent and powerful musical composition. We look forward to your participation!
President - Maggie Winter
Past President - Elaine Pancake
Vice President - Elaine Pancake
Secretary - Christine Fullerton
Treasurer - Frank Lieble
Becky Williams (2018)
Heathey Cowley (2019)
Susan Vargo (2019)
Soprano - Joy Twitty
Alto - Christiana Lacroix
Tenor - Bob Anderson
Bass - Rob Landry
Ad sales - Dick Fess
Awards - Becky Williams
Banquet - Becky Williams
Choral Scholars - Libby Knox
Community Relations - Christine Fullerton
Development - Laureen Crowley
Facilities - Jenna Barta and Holly Phillips
Historian - Delise Lund
Membership - Sue Perry-Kun
Peanut Sales - Mabel Burridge
Program - Melissa Weisman
Publicity - Elaine Pancake
Seating - Laureen Crowley
Sing Along - Becky Williams
Webmaster - Brennan Williams