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Alumnus featured soloist in 'Messiah' for ECCO-Grace Lutheran celebration

RELEASED: Feb. 11, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — Val Knobloch, an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, will be a featured soloist in a performance of George Frideric Handel's "Messiah" Feb. 20 at Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire.

Knobloch, a tenor, is a 1981 UW-Eau Claire graduate who co-directs the church's choirs. He will join the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra in celebrating the church's 100th anniversary. Wilma Hovland, an alto and co-director of the choirs, will join Knobloch for the performance of the "Easter" section of Handel's work, which is the final portion of the famed oratorio.

Other musical selections will feature Elaine Mann, organist and minister of music at the church, the Grace Lutheran Church combined choirs and the church's handbell choir.

The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the church, located at 202 W. Grand Ave. It will be conducted by Ivar Lunde Jr., ECCO's music director and UW-Eau Claire professor emeritus of music, who retired in 2003.

"Seldom has ECCO's programming contained this much diversity within a single concert," said Lunde, making special note of a planned performance of Felix-Alexander Guilmant's Symphony No. 1 for organ and orchestra.

"The opening phrases of Guilmant's organ symphony will remind you of the 'Phantom of the Opera,'" he said. "The entire symphony offers Elaine Mann an opportunity to showcase both her own considerable skills and the Grace Lutheran Church organ as well."

According to Lunde, a cooperative musical effort between ECCO and the church is a natural fit, since the sanctuary has been a venue for ECCO concerts for more than a decade.

Tickets, available at Visit Eau Claire (formerly the Chippewa Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau), Schmitt Music, Morgan Music, Neff Piano Shop and at the door, are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $8 for students.

The chamber orchestra is featured on Community Television's analog Channel 96 and digital Channel 993 in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls and many other area communities Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. The current program previews the Feb. 20 concert and features Mann and Lunde, as well as two organ pieces performed by Mann. The CTV program is hosted by Tom Barland.

For more information, call Ivar Lunde Jr. at 715-838-8890 or visit the ECCO Web site.

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RD/DW

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