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Volume 28 Issue 3 | December 2022 - January 2023

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Creative Collisions offer land-use hope for community and arts space; "Take Dec 10 for Example" -- Orchestral Explosion; Landmark novel finds music theatre form; Behind the scenes at Salute to Vienna; Collaborative serendipity on the joint-concert front; Amnesia and the alternative: QSYO's take on "Comfort and Joy". A bumber crop of record reviews (and not a Holiday compilation among them)! All this and more...


CHORAL SCENE Worth the Drive to KW HANDEL’S MESSIAH DAVID PERLMAN Howard Dyck There has never been a December/January issue in The WholeNote’s 28 year history where Handel’s Messiah has not been part of our editorial coverage; sometimes coming up with fresh angles on the story is tougher than at other times. This is one of the easier ones, thanks to Howard Dyck. Howard Dyck, for those who don’t know, was, for almost four decades starting in 1972, the artistic director of the Grand Philharmonic Choir (previously known as the Kitchener-Waterloo Philharmonic Choir), before passing the baton to Mark Vuorinen in 2010. decades during which Grand Philharmonic Choir presentations of Messiah at Kitchener’s Centre in the Square ranked consistently at the “worth the drive to KW” for those of us not lucky enough to already be there! This was partly due to Dyck’s grasp of the material, to the quality of the choir and their “house band” – none other than the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestra; and partly because Dyck, as was the case with Handel himself, understood the importance of showmanship – consistently attracting a cast of stellar and often intriguingly matched guest soloists for GPC’s productions. (Think countertenor Daniel Taylor and tenor Ben Heppner together, as just one example.) Christmas at Metropolitan Dr. Jonathan Oldengarm, Minister of Music Sunday Dec. 18 at 7pm Candlelight Lessons & Carols Choir, Handbells, Choristers, Youth band & Canada’s largest pipe organ Saturday Dec. 24 at 5:30pm Family Christmas Eve: Contemporary service with music & activities Saturday Dec. 24 at 11pm Christmas Eve with Communion The Christmas story under candlelight with choir & organ Sunday Dec. 25 at 11am A Folktale Christmas: A cozy service with storytelling & music 56 Queen St. E. 14 | December 2022 - January 2023

Guest Spot In 2015, with five years distance on the GPC’s Messiahs, Dyck took on a guest spot of his own, here in The WholeNote, in an article that ranged from musing on the mystery of the work’s unbroken appeal since its first performance in Dublin in 1742, to reflecting on his own lifelong association with the work: from first hearing it live as a ten-year old in Winkler, Manitoba, to conducting it in the People’s Republic of China. Along the way in the story, Dyck excoriates some of the historically worst excesses in performances of the work. After pointing out that Handel’s Dublin performing forces were exceedingly modest in size, he writes: “It wasn’t long until enormous choirs and orchestras took on this remarkable work. Of its evolution into a lumbering warhorse, the most perspicacious critic was surely George Bernard Shaw [who] in a 1913 magazine article argued his case: ‘Handel is not a mere composer in England: he is an institution. What is more, he is a sacred institution. When his Messiah is performed, the audience stands up, as if in church, while the Hallelujah chorus is being sung… Every three years there is a Handel Festival, at which his oratorios are performed by four thousand executants from all the choirs in England. The effect is horrible; and everybody declares it sublime.” (One wonders what Shaw would have thought of the production of Messiah that, on June 14, 1894, was the opening concert in a fiveconcert festival to inaugurate the then 3,500-seat “Massey Music Hall” on Shuter Street; the performance featured a 500-member chorus with an accompanying 70-member “Grand Festival Orchestra”.) “Happily, those days of unwarranted excess are largely behind us,” Dyck continues. “Nowadays, especially during the month of December – strange thing, that, given that Handel intended Messiah to be performed during the Easter season – it is possible to hear a great number of performances, some with very economical forces, others with large choirs and orchestras, albeit mostly displaying the transparency and agility we have come to expect.” The year Dyck wrote that article for us, readers of The WholeNote had an astounding 32 separate productions of Messiah (44 performances in all) to choose from. This year’s list is modest by comparison, but no less diverse in terms of the range of forces that can be effectively brought to bear on this remarkable and remarkably durable work. So, what made our perennial Messiah story easier to write this year than sometimes? This (on the Grand Philharmonic Choir website): Messiah is a banquet for the spirit. … It is the best-loved work we perform. We warmly welcome [back] our Artistic Director Emeritus, Howard Dyck, as guest conductor. OUR 2022 MESSIAH LIST See the concert listings for more details. Dec 09 7:30: Elmer Iseler Singers. Handel’s Messiah. Elmer Iseler Singers; Lydia Adams, conductor. Soloists: Meredith Hall, soprano; Andrea Ludwig, mezzo-soprano; Owen McCausland, tenor; and Jorell Williams, bass. Guest choir : Viva Chamber Singers. Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge St. Dec 10 7:30: Grand Philharmonic Choir. Handel’s Messiah. Grand Philharmonic Choir; Howard Dyck, conductor. Soloists: Megan Chartrand, soprano; Julie Boulianne, mezzo; Colin Ainsworth, tenor; Jesse Blumberg, baritone. Centre in the Square, 101 Queen St. N., Kitchener. Dec 11 7:30: Toronto Beach Chorale. George Frideric Handel: Messiah. Nune An, soprano; Rachel Miller, mezzo; Mike Dodge, tenor; Matthew Cassils, bass; Chamber Orchestra & Chorus. Kingston Road United Church, 975 Kingston Rd. Dec 16 7:30: Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra/Bach Elgar Choir. Handel’s Messiah. Gemma New, conductor; Bach Elgar Choir. Soloists: Meredith Hall, soprano; Jennifer Enns Modolo, mezzo-soprano; Benjamin Butterfield, tenor; Giles Tomkins, bass. Central Presbyterian Church, 165 Charlton Ave. W., Hamilton. Also Dec 18(2pm). Dec 16 7:30: Tafelmusik. Handel: Messiah. Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra & Chamber Choir; Ivars Taurins, conductor. Soloists: Karina Gauvin, soprano; Christopher Lowrey, countertenor; Valerio Contaldo, tenor; Brett Polegato, baritone. Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre, 273 Bloor St. W. Also Dec 17. Dec 17 7:30: Guelph Chamber Choir. Messiah. Guelph Chamber Choir & Baroque Orchestra; Charlene Pauls, conductor. Soloists: Soprano: Sydney Baedke; Alto: Marion Newman; Tenor: Adam Luther; Bass: Dion Mazerolle. River Run Centre, 35 Woolwich St., Guelph. Tickets: Adult- Senior/Youth - December 2022 - January 2023 | 15

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