While Parksville Qualicum Beach residents are no strangers to Handel’s Messiah oratorio, a local performance of the work will be particularly grand this holiday season.
“We are really going big this year,” said Ann Barber, Parksville and District Community Choir director and conductor for the upcoming Messiah performance.
The choir has performed the Messiah many times over the years with piano and organ, but the performance on Sunday, Dec. 3, at Knox church will mark the second time the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra has taken part. The local performance will also feature four guest soloists. Soprano Andrea Rodall and mezzosoprano Élizabeth Grenon, both of Duncan, have performed with the choir before. Victoria tenor Adam Dyjach and Michael MacKinnon, a bass from Vancouver, are joining the choir for the first time.
There will also be a pair of piccolo trumpet players, Steven Donegan and Alastair Chaplin, performing in the show.
“With the chamber orchestra, the trumpeters and the soloists, I think this is going to be a fantastic performance,” said Barber.
The Messiah is an oratorio, which is a large-scale work for an orchestra and singers written as a narrative based on sacred works.
It differs from an opera in that there is no acting and no costumes or sets. The Messiah tells the story of Jesus Christ, and has become a very popular Christmas piece over the years, said Barber. “To some people, this is Christmas music, even though it’s not all about Christmas, this just is Christmas to them,” she said. Even those who haven’t seen a performance of the Messiah will recognize music from the oratorio, such as the Hallelujah chorus.
Of the Messiah as a whole, Barber said, it is often requested by both singers and audiences, who also enjoy singing along. “We will be having some sing-a-long choruses in our performance, too,” she said.
Asked what she likes about the Messiah, Barber said, “It’s such powerful music. Everybody feels really uplifted after this… I guess it’s good stimulus for the brain, and it just makes you feel good. I think the audience feels good, too.”
The performance takes place at Knox United Church on Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance at Mulberry Bush bookstores in Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $22.