For more than three decades, the Stephenville and Tarleton communities have welcomed the holiday season with George Frideric Handelís Messiah. This yearís performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center Auditorium.

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will join the Cross Timbers Civic Chorale along with the Tarleton choirs for the production, which will be directed by Dr. Troy Robertson. In addition to Handelís Messiah, the choirs will present John Rutterís Magnificat.

This year marks the first year that Robertson, Tarletonís director of choral activities, has conducted Messiah, and the 32nd year the university has presented the work. Handel first performed the complex and musically challenging oratorio, a composition for voice and instruments with lyrics from the Bible, in 1742. The composition is known for its familiar Hallelujah chorus, which prompts the audience to stand, a tradition dating back to the 18th century.

The first Tarleton performance for the now-annual event was held on Dec. 5, 1980, under the direction of Herbert Teat. ?Even today, the chorale follows the credo that was printed on the back of the first program that stated, ďThe Cross Timbers Civic Chorale is a group of individuals who believe that singing great music enriches the lives of the singers. This same enrichment is believed to be realized by the listener when shared in concert with the singers. The Cross Timbers Civic Chorale came into being for the purpose of presenting, annually, Handelís Messiah to add to the quality of life of the people of the Cross Timbers Area.Ē

The chorale is a civic chorus sponsored by Tarleton and the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council. Singing with the chorale are the Tarleton University Singers, Chamber Choir and Select Womenís Ensemble. ?The visit by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is made possible by grants from Saint-Gobain Corporation Foundation, Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council, and the Office of the President of Tarleton State University.

Admission is $12 and tickets are now on sale in the box office, Monday through Friday from 2-6 p.m., and on Saturday when the box office opens at 6 p.m. For more information, call 968-9634.