Special to the Empire-Tribune George Frederic Handel's Messiah has been a holiday tradition for 216 years. It has been a part of Tarleton State University's holiday tradition since 1980.

This year is particularly special, as it marks the 28th annual production of Messiah for Tarleton's Department of Fine Arts and Dr. Charles Rives' 25th year as the conductor. This year's performance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 in the auditorium of the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center.

“Over the years, the Cross Timbers Civic Chorale and the Tarleton choirs have developed into much more sophisticated and capable singing groups,” Rives said. “It has been a tremendous joy for me to see that growth and to be a part of it. Twenty-five years is a significant milestone but as they say, time flies when you are having fun.”

This year, all previous members of the Tarleton choir are invited to participate in the concert. The Cross Timbers Civic Chorale will join the Tarleton's University Singers, Chamber Choir and Select Women's Ensemble for the concert. The combined choirs will also perform A Christmas Flourish by Randol Allan Bass.

Professional string players, along with Tarleton faculty Dr. Teresa Davidian and Mr. Greg Ball, will accompany the Chorale. This year's featured soloists are Dr. Marika Kyriakos and Mrs. Heather Hawk; both are members of the voice faculty at Tarleton. Student vocal soloists will also be included in the performance.

Admission is $8 and all seats are reserved. Cross Timbers Civic Chorale member will sell tickets beginning Nov. 14. Tickets will also be available for purchase in Room 105E of the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center Nov. 26 through Nov. 30, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The box office will open at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1. Credit card sales are available by phone at (254) 968-9291.