What would the Christmas Season be without a performance of Handel’s Messiah?
This year, the North Island Choral Society invites everyone to join them in a Sing-Along-Messiah on Dec. 15 at 1:30 p.m in St. George’s United Church at Fitzgerald and Sixth in Courtenay.
The soloists are all well known to Comox Valley audiences: Megan Skidmore, soprano; Lisa Deith, contralto; David Brown, tenor and Chris Bellamy, bass.
Admission is by donation and the proceeds will go to charity.
George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759) was born into a non-musical family. Much of his training was in Halle and Hamburg, Germany. He lived in Italy before moving to England in 1712.
Handel became a naturalized Brit, becoming somewhat like the Andrew Lloyd-Webber of his day, although he was much more than a popular music composer.
He composed the Messiah in 24 days in 1741. The first performance was in Dublin in April 1742. It was also a charity concert.
A reporter for the Dublin News-Letter attending a rehearsal described the oratorio as "...far surpassing anything of that Nature which has been performed in this or any other Kingdom."
The result of the good press was a sold-out audience of 700. To make room in the hall, gentlemen were asked to take off their swords and ladies to remove their hoops.
Clearly, this is not a request of today, although gentlemen might want to take off their caps!
The performance in Dublin earned unanimous praise from the press: "Words are wanting to express the exquisite delight it afforded to the admiring and crouded Audience."
The warm reception at Dublin was not repeated at the first performance in London in 1743.
The revival of the work at Covent Garden in 1749 was the start of the huge popularity with audiences. The profound meaning of the work continues to this day.
An almost-blind Handel last heard the oratorio at Covent Garden on April 6, 1759, eight days before his death. Surely, he must have known the power of his music and the scriptural text taken from The Bible, The Psalms and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
While the Messiah has been performed with huge instrumental ensembles, never anticipated by the composer, our Comox Valley presentation will mirror, in many ways, what Handel intended.
Handel originally wrote Messiah for a modest number of vocalists and instrumentalists. North Island Choral Society conductor, Paul Colthorpe and accompanist, Elvera Penner with the soloists and the choir will guide the audience through.
The timing of this afternoon concert should suit everyone. So bring your voices, your score if you have one, and have a real good sing.
For more information, see northislandchoral.wordpress.com.
— North Island Choral Society