Thursday, December 10, 2009

Handel's Messiah - Part Two

Last weekend, I wrote of the two different presentations of Handel's celebrated oratorio Messiah in Niagara this season. It is funny; the year Chorus Niagara doesn't do Messiah, two other groups fill the void.

As I wrote on Saturday, Choralis Camerata directed by Laura Thomas presented Messiah twice on the weekend; Saturday evening in St. Catharines and Sunday afternoon in Fonthill. I didn't attend the Saturday performance but did attend the Sunday afternoon performance, and I found the choir and orchestra presented a thoroughly enjoyable performance of the work. The chorus particularly was more assured this time out, having only performed the work for the first time a couple of years ago. They perform Messiah the years Chorus Niagara takes a break. For a very reasonable price, Laura Thomas and Choralis Camerata presented a high-quality interpretation of the work for a capacity crowd.

Now, to this weekend. Boris Brott, well known around these parts for his highly-successful Brott Music Festival in Hamilton and surrounding area three seasons of the year, has for 10 years now presented their own Messiah in the Hamilton/Burlington area. In fact, Saturday evening they perform at St. Christopher's Church in Burlington and Monday evening at West Highland Baptist Church in Hamilton up on the mountain. In between, Boris brings his celebrated National Academy Orchestra and the Arcady Singers to St. Catharines for the first time ever, performing Sunday evening at St. Thomas Anglican Church on Ontario Street. This has long been one of my favourite churches locally, in spite of the wooden chairs that punish you over the long haul! The acoustic is quite nice and the setting is absolutely wonderful. This should prove to be a perfect setting for the performance, although the size of the venue limits the number of tickets that can be sold, I would think.

That being said, ticket sales appear to be good and everything is in place for Sunday evening. I talked with Boris while he was in Ottawa earlier this week, and he is certainly looking forward to introducing his young orchestra and company to a new audience here in Niagara, and I think by and large, the feeling is mutual. There may be some who wonder if we really need a second presentation of Messiah in the Region, but I say 'Why not?' Not everyone can go to one or the other, and fewer still can go to both; this gives more people an opportunity to enjoy this Christmas and Easter staple and perhaps even be exposed to the work for the very first time.

There is certainly room for two different presentations of Messiah, and I think it will be a comment on the artistic values Niagarans place on the Christmastime tradition if last weekend and this weekend provide strong ticket sales. Last week did, and I have no doubt this weekend will as well.

Let's put politics aside for once and just enjoy the occasion. We are blessed with choral riches in Niagara anyways; this Christmas it is all the richer, and we're all the better for it. Let's fill those seats on Sunday evening at St. Thomas as many did last weekend with Choralis Camerata's fine peformances. There will always be room in this town for two Messiahs!

For tickets, check out their website at and we'll see you there.

December 10th, 2009.

1 comment:

Boris said...

We are enthusiastically looking forward to performing Messiah in St. Catherines tonight. Hope you can come and publish your views on the performance. Last night's performance in Burlington to a SRO audience was a very uplifting experience for all concerned. The Arcady singers are among the best choral ensembles in the world and allow for a flexibility of shading and tempo second to none. The soloists were in top form and the enthusiasm and commitment of these young professionals all performing standing up (except for the celli of course) gave the work an extra measure of palpable feeling.

I look forward to seeing all of your readers tonight and sharing this great work.

Boris Brott