The Longstanding Legacy of Messiah Performances on the Fort Wayne Campus

The 1952 Fort Wayne Bible College Messiah Chorus and Orchestra. The oratorio was preformed in Founders Memorial auditorium on the college campus December 14, 1952, with Professor Oliver Steiner conducting.  ​​​​​​

By Dr. Jay Platte g69

The performance of George Frideric Handel’s classic Messiah on the Fort Wayne campus over a period of 42 years left indelible imprints not only on our alumni but also on residents of Fort Wayne and the surrounding area. In 1944 Oliver Steiner g26 directed the first performance of Messiah, an oratorio by G.F. Handel, on the campus of Fort Wayne Bible Institute. It was performed by the Oratorio chorus and several soloists from FWBI. This performance set the pace for an established tradition that would continue for four decades into the future.

In 1951, Fort Wayne Bible Institute became Fort Wayne Bible College. After Mr. Steiner’s death in March 1955, Dr. Lansing Bulgin continued the tradition of Messiah performance through 1957, followed by Walter Kerfoot through 1960, Richard Elmer through 1963, John Bectelheimer though 1965, and finally Dr. Jay Platte g69 from 1967 through 1986.

Pamphlet from Messiah Concert in 1986 

The tradition of Messiah performances matched closely the mission of Fort Wayne Bible College to spread the good news of our Savior both near and far. And it was always performed with an orchestra and featured talented soloists as a highlight. The Fort Wayne Bible College annual Messiah performance was well known and loved around the Fort Wayne area.

If you are interested in hearing an excerpt from the 1967 performance, the Oratorio Chorus and soloists’ performance of “Hallelujah,” click here and enjoy!

Messiah Soloists with Choir in 1967, the first year Dr. Jay Platte conducted Messiah 
Soloists from left to right: Tom Zehr g54, tenor; Anita Lamos, contralto; Pauline Tweed, soprano; James Clauser g62, bass

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