Abendmusik at First-Plymouth Church continues to celebrate its lengthening tenure as part of the Lincoln fine arts scene with a season that marks several significant anniversaries, including its own 45th. The upcoming season features both local and visiting talent, highlighted by some favorite Abendmusik traditions as well as a few significant firsts.

Abendmusik hosts a special production in collaboration with the Lied Center when the Grammy-winning choral group Conspirare performs the Nebraska premiere of “Considering Matthew Shepard” Feb. 25. The work, composed by Conspirare’s conductor Craig Hella Johnson, commemorates Shepard’s untimely death as the victim of a hate crime in October 1998, a crime now approaching its 20th anniversary. Audiences will experience the transformation of an act of hate into a message of hope.

In November, the 20th anniversary of First-Plymouth’s Lied Organ will be celebrated with a concert performed by organist Daryl Robinson, making his Lincoln debut. Included in the concert will be another Nebraska premiere, a dramatic work for two organs and choir by the French composer Yves Castagnet.

Not to be missed this season will be featured performances by “sounding light,” conducted by Abendmusik’s own Tom Trenney; the globe-trotting collegiate singers of the Concordia Choir, led by celebrated conductor/composer Rene Clausen; and the internationally beloved classical vocal ensemble VOCES8 on tour from their home in the United Kingdom.

Of course, Abendmusik’s 45th season includes its tradition of celebrating favorite holidays. For those who love to participate in the music-making, there will be a community singalong of the Christmas portion of “The Messiah” with professional soloists and conductors in late November. In December, a multicultural Christmas concert will feature choir, bell ringers and orchestra at no cost to audiences on two different dates.

The long-playing “Last Blast!” concert on New Year’s Eve, this year celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Plymouth Brass, will include guest appearances by past conductors Jack Levick and Jeremy Bankson. For Valentine’s Day, Trenney will again perform love songs from the Great American Songbook in a fundraising evening that starts with a gourmet dinner and silent auction.

Closing the season on Good Friday is a concert by the Nebraska Wesleyan Choir, the Plymouth Choir and internationally recognized conductor of the St. Olaf Choir, Anton Armstrong. Their performance of the moving “Pieta,” by John Muehleisen, will be free to the public.

For more concert and ticket details, see abendmusik.org.

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