Baltimore City's oldest continuously performing oratorio society, the Handel Choir of Baltimore, was the recent recipient of a $50,000 donation from a Sykesville couple.

G. Van Velsor Wolf, a retired senior partner with the law firm Piper and Marbury in Baltimore, and hiswife, Alice, contributed the money to show their support of the choir and encourage others to contribute to it.

The couple's son, Timothy, a prosecutor in Columbia, Howard County, is president of the board of trustees of the choir and a bass singer with the group.

Van Velsor Wolf said the couple was very impressed with the choir's performances, and called the group "a beautifully polished gem."

The choir was formed in the 1930s. Four years ago, the board and music director, T. Herbert Dimmock, started the endowment fund to which the Wolfs donated, said Rosemary Faya, choir executive director.

Faya said the choir was overwhelmed by the donation, its single largest gift.

The endowment now stands at $140,000, including a $25,000 pledge over five years from the Markland Kelly Foundation.

The endowment fund will help pay for soloists, the orchestra, music and executive directors and other expenses.

As with many such music groups, ticket sales make up less than half of the choir's budget.

Most of the choir's 85 singers are volunteers, Faya noted.

Her own position, only part time, was created last July upon recommendation from the board in a 1989 strategic plan and managementconsulting firm.

The executive director position is financed through a $7,000 grant from the Maryland National Foundation, $2,000 in individual donations and $10,000 from the Jacob and Annita France Foundation Inc. and the Robert G. and Anne M. Merrick Foundation Inc.

The Handel Choir's next scheduled performances include:

* A chamber chorus concert of Bach motets at 4 p.m. Feb. 17 at First English Evangelical Lutheran Church.

* The "Manzoni Requiem" by Verdi at 4 p.m. April 7 at Kraushaar Auditorium.

* A Haydn and Bach concert at 4 p.m. May 19 at Second Presbyterian Church.

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