'Messiah' soloists


Bluffton's 120th performance of Handel's work set for Dec. 6

BLUFFTON, Ohio—Bluffton University’s music department has announced the soloists for its 120th performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, in Founders Hall. Soloists are Kate Merryman, soprano; Lianna Wimberly Williams, mezzo-soprano; James Flora, tenor; and Weilong Tao, baritone.

Kate MerrymanMerryman, from the Washington, D.C., area, has a performance repertoire that includes opera, musical theater and concert works. She has also been a private voice instructor since 2011—the same year she sang at the Kennedy Center in Washington for “The Presidency of John F. Kennedy: A 50th Anniversary Celebration.” She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in vocal pedagogy at The Ohio State University.

Lianna Wimberly WilliamsWilliams, an Ohio native, is in the doctoral program in voice performance at Ohio State, where she also holds a master’s degree in vocal pedagogy. She has appeared in a number of concerts and operas, including at Clayton State University in Morrow, Ga., where she earned her bachelor’s degree in voice performance. She has also been the recipient of various awards and scholarships, including an OSU Fellowship.

James FloraFlora has performed in numerous concerts and operas. He appeared recently with Washington Concert Opera in the second-ever American production of Strauss’s first opera, “Guntram.” Last May, he sang the tenor solos in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Alexandria (Va.) Symphony. He has also performed with Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Columbus, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic, among others.   

Weilong TaoTao has sung many operatic roles as both a tenor and a baritone over the last 22 years. He had the title role in Verdi’s “Otello” at the State Opera Bratislava in Slovakia and, in 2009, received the Thalia Prize as male opera singer of the year in the Czech Republic. He holds a master’s degree in vocal performing arts from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and is now seeking a doctorate in voice at Ohio State.