About the Society
The Choral Society of the Moriches has been presenting George Frideric Handel's Messiah since 1937, when Edna Kaler Gracey, the founder of the Society, conducted their first Messiah concert at The Presbyterian Church of the Moriches. Against the backdrop of the beautiful pipe organ, the 39 original chorus members sang an abridged version of the score. The emphasis was on quality and authenticity, reflecting the training Mrs. Gracey received during her European studies. Thereafter, each Christmas season until 1948, the Choral Society continued to present the Messiah under Mrs. Gracey's direction. In 1949, George Harrup picked up the baton and directed the Society until 1958.
From 1959, until his retirement after the 1993 concert season, The Choral Society of the Moriches flourished under the direction of Josef Lemmen. Mr. Lemmen, a rich baritone who would traditionally sing 'Why do the Nations' or 'The Trumpet Shall Sound,' expanded the scope of the Society's Messiah tradition. Eventually under his direction, a small orchestra was assembled to accompany the chorus and nearly the entire score of the Messiah was presented. After Mr. Lemmen's retirement, Carol Jurgielewicz (a longtime soprano soloist with the Society) directed the 1994 concert season. From 1995 until 2014, The Choral Society of the Moriches continued to grow under the direction of Martha Campanile. Martha retired at the end of the 2014 season. In 2015, Kamilla Ozman took over as our music director. Kamilla chose an orchestration that reflected Handel's original composition. In 2019, Dr. Richard Wright became our director, working in conjunction with The New Inlet Orchestra.
About Handel’s Messiah
Handel's Messiah, unlike the trational form of oratorio, is a collection of quotations from the Old and New Testaments telling of the prophecy of Christ's coming: His birth, life, death and resurrection. George Frideric Handel began to compose Messiah on August 22, 1741, and completed it in the astonishingly short time of 24 days! The work affected the emotions of Handel as perhaps it does ours, for he said of those 24 days, "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the Great God Himself."
Dr. Richard Wright currently serves as the Academic Chair of the Music Department at Suffolk County Community College, where he is a full-time Professor of Music and the Orchestra Director since 2002. For eight of those years at Suffolk, he also served as the piano accompanist for the College Choir and the Suffolk Singers. Since 2007, he has been the conductor of the Bay Area Symphony Orchestra in Sayville, which is a part of the Bay Area Friends of the Fine Arts (BAFFA). He became the conductor of the New Inlet Chamber Orchestra (NICO) in 2018. He has been privileged to guest conduct the Massapequa Philharmonic three times in past seasons. He has been a frequent guest conductor at festivals in the past, having conducted at Sewanhaka, Nassau Music Educators Association, and Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association concerts in 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively.
Before moving to Long Island, Dr. Wright conducted three community orchestras in the Chicago (IL) area, and was Music Director of one of those for three years. That orchestra eventually became the resident ensemble of the Sherwood Music Academy in 2001.
Prior to earning his Doctor of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from Northwestern University (IL) in 2002, Dr. Wright earned a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from Brigham Young University (UT), and a Bachelor of Music degree in Music History and Literature from Northern Arizona University.
Dr. Wright has a wealth of experience as an orchestral conductor, in classical, Pops, and Broadway show styles. He has performed both on stage as an actor and in the pit as a musician and conductor for many stage musicals from Gilbert and Sullivan to Sondheim. He also has much experience in directing local volunteer choirs. As a professional pianist, he has spent over three decades performing in bands and orchestras, as well as accompanying choirs, singers, and instrumentalists. He has been a private piano teacher for over three decades, and also has a professional piano tuning business. He began studying the piano at age eight.
Dr. Wright and his wife are the parents of two sons, and he resides in Port Jefferson Station.