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ON THE RADAR | The Great Big Messiah List: A Guide For Holidays

By Hye Won Cecilia Lee on November 25, 2017

One of my colleagues casually said last week that she must have done at least 200 Messiah performances to date.  Another calmly nodded and wondered whether he should even attempt to count the number of times that he has belted out the Hallelujah chorus for Christmas, Easter, random choir concerts… the list of events went on for a good half minute.  Yes, Toronto, December is just around the corner, and it means Messiah time: cut, uncut, traditional, children’s, a new adaptation — you can take your pick!  We have put together a 2017 Messiah list to lift your holiday spirit:

29 November

London Symphonia and London Pro Musica Choir

If you are in for an early Messiah, head out to London, Ontario.  London Symphonia presents their annual Messiah with soloists Leslie Fagan, Marion Newman, Owen McCausland, Giles Tomkins and special guests London Pro Musica Choir with Kevin Mallon. 29 November at 7:30 pm (First Saint Andrews Church, 222-270-0910 or online)

2 December

St. Michael’s Choir School: Messiah Part I

The celebrated St. Michael’s Choir School provides daily choral instruction and weekly sung mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral, a proper old world tradition.  This year, conductors Vincent Cheng, Maria Conkey, Teri Dunn and Peter Mahon will lead the boys for their 52nd consecutive yearly performance at the Massey Hall.  William O’Meara accompanies. At 3 pm (Massey Hall, 416-872-4255 or online)

Pax Christie: Children’s Messiah

Pax Christie will don up their Christmas sweaters and channel their inner Reindeer with fuzzy antlers for their little, wiggly audience for an hour-long Messiah for children. David Bowser leads this lovely pay-what-you-can event for the benefit of a local charity supporting children in need.  4-5pm (Church of the Redeemer, additional inquiries online)

Stratford Concert Choir: Messiah

This 90+ strong community choir brings the Messiah to beautiful Stratford under the direction of Ian Sandler with guests Rachel Huitsing, Anna Tamm Relyea, Stephen Harland and Gary Relyea.  This lovely weekend trip concert will be joined by the Stratford Chamber Orchestra. 7:30 pm (St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 519-273-9292 or online)

Georgetown Choral Society: Messiah
Formed back in 1971, Georgetown Choral Society has close to 100 members in the historic Halton region and Christopher Dawes will direct this stronghold for its winter celebration of Messiah.  Guest soloists Kelsey Taylor, Nicole Percifield, Elias Theocharidis and Bradley Christensen will be joining the choir, and the Valen Ensemble Orchestra with Ron Greidanus at the harpsichord will provide their beautiful instrumental playing.  7:30 pm (Georgetown Christian Reformed Church, 905-877-7795 or online)

Milton Choristers: Messiah
Milton Choristers will present a local, intimate chamber arrangement of the Messiah with soloists Kirsten Pelchat, Cassandra Warner, Paul Williamson and Todd Wieczorek.  Rachel Cleland directs, and Susan Edmonds accompanies with guest members of the Milton Philharmonic. 7:30 pm (First Ontario Arts Centre, 905-878-6000 or online)

4–6 December

Soundstreams: Ear Candy 2017/18: Electric Messiah 3

Returning for the third year, Ashelie Corcoran (Stage Direction) and Adam Scime (Music Director) will lead Soundstream’s immensely popular Electric Messiah with Adanya Dunn, Elizabeth Shepard, Jonathan MacArthur and Justin Welsh.  The accompanying ensemble of guitar, electronics, electric harpsichord+organ and turntables, will explore selected popular Messiah tunes with fresh sound and context, 4-6 December at 8 pm (The Drake Underground, 416-504-1282 or online)

10 December

Kingston Chamber Choir

Kingston Chamber Choir is excited to present their Messiah to the community with soloists Bethany Hörst, Erin Lawson, Christopher Mayell and David Pike.  There will be a chamber orchestra with the choir.  Gordon Sinclair directs. 10th December at 22:30 pm (Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Kingston, 613-533-2424 or online)

Toronto Beach Chorale

Continuing to aspire and engage in Toronto’s Beaches community, Toronto Beach Chorale presents Messiah under the direction of Mervin William Fick, with special guests Virginia Hatfield, Laura McAlpine, Sean Clark and Matthew Cassils. An orchestra of 20 musicians will perform along with the voices. 10th December at 7:30 pm (Kingston Road United Church, 416-698-8338 or online).

13–17 December


The historically informed annual performance of Messiah returns to Koerner hall under the direction of Ivars Taurins, featuring Tafelmusik Choir and Orchestra.  Outstanding soloists for this year include Joanne Lunn, James Laing, Rufus Müller and Brett Polegato. (Koerner Hall, 416-964-6337 or online)

On the 17th, Tafelmusik will relocate to Massey Hall for perhaps the most celebrated Messiah annual tradition in Toronto: Sing-along with “Herr Handel.”  All are welcome for this sing-along with the soloists and the Tafelmusik Choir and Orchestra.  Seating is assigned by voice parts, and families+friends may sit together in the mixed-voice session.  Come on down to sing with Herr Handel for this beautiful tradition.  (Massey Hall, 416-872-4255 or online)

16 December

Mississauga Symphony Orchestra + Mississauga Festival Chamber Choir

Mississauga Symphony Orchestra will present Highlights from Messiah with soloists Sara Schabas, Beste Kalender, Zachary RIoux and Christopher Dunham, with support from their guest choir, the Mississauga Festival Chamber Choir.  16th December at 8 pm (Hammerson Hall, Mississauga Living Arts Centre, 905-306-6000 or online)

Voices: Messiah

Following up from last year’s abridged Messiah, Ron Chung directs  Voices choir in an uncut performance of Messiah:  Yes, every tune and every instrumental number will be played, which is quite rare. The choir will be joined by guest soloists Antonina Ermolenko, Monica Zerbe, Michael P. Taylor, Steven Henrikson and boy soprano Kai Huang, and a chamber orchestra.  16th December at 7:30 pm (Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 416-519-0528, online or email for advance tickets)

18 December:  Peterborough Singers

Under the direction of Sydney Birell, Peterborough Singers celebrate their 25th anniversary season this year.  Well-known in the community for their continual invitation of famous soloists, their roster for the Messiah concert is quite exciting this year: vocalists Suzie Leblanc, Erin Fisher, Colin Ainsworth, and Andrew Tees will be joining the choir, with additional musical accents from Ian Sadler (organ), Paul Otway (trumpet) and Stan Ewing (timpani).  18 December at 7:30 pm (Emmanuel United Church East, Peterborough, ON,  705-745-1820 or online)

18–23 December

Toronto Symphony Orchestra

The annual Toronto Symphony Messiah will be led by Matthew Halls in five performances at the Roy Thomson Hall.  Stellar soloists will be featured: Karina Gauvin, Krisztina Szabó,  Frédéric Antoun and  Joshua Hopkins, supported by the beloved Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.

(Roy Thomson Hall, all shows start at 8 pm, with exception of 23rd December: 3 pm Start, 416-598-3375 or online)

22 December

Cellar Singers

You can still catch the melodies of Messiah out in cottage country.  Continuing 50 years of commitment to community music experience, Cellar Singers of Orillia, Simcoe County and Muskoka bring Handel to the North, a sing-along Messiah with Mitchell Pady at the podium and Blair Bailey at the piano. Sing-along will be at Bracebridge United Church, 7 pm.  Bring your own scores or rent one at the door.  Tickets at the door (705-718-4124 or online)

22–23 December

Guelph Chamber Choir: Messiah

The Guelph Chamber Choir is presenting two versions of the Messiah:

Much beloved Daniel Taylor, Meredith Hall, Neal Banerjee and Alex Dobson will present a historically inspired performance with Guelph Chamber Singers and the Musica Viva Orchestra on period instruments.  23rd December at 7:30 pm (River Run Centre, 519-763-3000 or online).

For a lighter affair, GCC will present their Messiah Sing-Along in benefit of the Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County by donation, 22nd December at 7:30 pm (St. George’s Anglican Church, Guelph, Ontario). | Details


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