Timeless Messiah coming to St. George’s United

Whether you are a seasoned choral veteran, shower soloist or just want to listen, here’s your opportunity to embrace the festive season along with members of the North Island Choral Society, soloists and orchestra in two performances of George Frederick Handel’s timeless Messiah.

The concerts take place at St. George’s United Church, 505 6th St., Courtenay on Friday, Dec. 1 (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday, Dec. 2 (2 p.m.).

Under the direction of long-time artistic director Paul Colthorpe with Elvera Penner, accompanist, the audience will want to sing and hear such favourites as the famous Hallelujah Chorus and the Amen while being led by the 80 strong choir and the NICS orchestra with trumpeters adding dimension to all the voices.

The soloists have appeared many times before with the North Island Choral Society. They are Megan Skidmore (soprano), Lisa Stephens-Deith (contralto), David Brown (tenor) and Christopher Bellamy (bass).

The oratorio is full of memorable arias like I Know That My Redeemer Liveth, sung by the soprano, and Every Valley Shall Be Exalted, sung by the tenor. The contralto sings the haunting aria: He Was Despised and the bass sings powerfully of redemption in The Trumpet Shall Sound.

Handel was born in Germany, but settled in England and became a British citizen. In 1741, the Rev. Charles Jennens, an Anglican priest and occasional collaborator with Handel, presented him with words carefully chosen from the Old and New Testaments. The words or libretto, as it is known to the music world, became the foundation of a successful oratorio that actually saved Handel from approaching bankruptcy.

Throughout Messiah, Handel’s writing for orchestra and solo voices is masterly, the fruits of a lifetime’s musical experience. Arguably, though, it is the choruses that raise Messiah onto a different plane, thanks to Handel’s unerring ability to grasp the dramatic potential of each text, and the astonishing power and variety of his choral writing. He must have known everyone wanted to sing them.

More than 275 years have passed since the oratorio was first performed in Dublin, Ireland, yet Messiah’s status as one of the great icons of European music remains undiminished. It continues to speak to millions of people of many cultures and faiths around the world.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Blue Heron Books in Comox and Laughing Oyster Books in Courtenay. Tickets can also be obtained at the door. Limited tickets for ages 12 and under can be purchased at the bookshops and at the door for $5.

NICS will provide copies of the words to those who do not have their own score.

FMI: northislandchoral.ca

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