AUS students help voice Handel’s Messiah Dec. 13 in Dubai

Dubai Opera (

By Aleen Anderias

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH — Two American University of Sharjah students – Shahd Mohammed and Vighnesh Prasad – will form part of the chorus for Handel’s Messiah performed Dec. 13 at the Dubai Opera. 

Interviewed Oct. 16, Mohammed said that she auditioned in front the conductor at The Fridge, which bills itself online as “an independent artist and entertainment agency,” in Alserkal Avenue, and where she and Prasad are members of The Fridge Choir. 

Mohammed added that the experience was less intimidating than expected as conductor Rob Johnston was welcoming and understanding.

Initially, Mohammed said she had signed up for an alto role but decided to audition with a soprano piece from the oratorio How Beautiful are the Feet of Them. Later, she said, she was placed as an alto in the large chorus. 

She credited Prasad for alerting her to the opportunity to sing in the Messiah

“He was in one of those group chats that always have Google Form sheets, audition letters, and opportunities,” she said. “He sent me the Google Form for the audition that asked me about my background, who I am, how old I am, and other information.” 

Prasad, a student in the master’s degree program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), has been part of The Fridge’s Festival Chorus since 2022. 

“I’ve always been a part of their productions since Carols by Candlelight in 2022,” he added during an Oct. 19 interview. “I had a Christmas performance with them at EXPO, and ever since then I’ve been in their database and whatever events they’ve had, I’ve attended.” 

Prasad added that this is The Fridge Choir members’ first major performance after winter 2022. 

Prasad said he found the audition process nerve-wracking, auditioning with an Aria piece titled Danza, danza, fanciulla gentile by Francesco Durante.  

“The challenges were to get into that zone because for auditions you usually sing songs from pop culture but, this Aria, I had learnt it from voice instructors,” he said. 

According to Prasad, Handel’s Messiah features two choruses, a small one and a large one. 

“There are 16 pieces shared by the large and small chorus, with the small chorus singing slightly more songs,” he added. 

Prasad said he’s part of the smaller chorus and is placed as a tenor. 

“Since the small chorus is an intimate group of people our rehearsals are much longer than the large chorus and we are scheduled to come in from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays,” Prasad said. 

He added that the large chorus rehearses on those days from 2-5 p.m.