PRIMER | The Great Gig Messiah List

By Hye Won Cecilia Lee on November 19, 2019

Your guide to Handel’s Messiah in Toronto and the GTA for holiday season 2019.

Your guide to Handel’s Messiah in Toronto and the GTA for holiday season 2019.
Your guide to Handel’s Messiah in Toronto and the GTA for holiday season 2019.

The holiday spirit returns with the familiar chorus of Halleluijah ringing in the air. In this well-loved chorus, the word Halleluijah is repeated 167 times, and it remains massively popular, still generating countless memes and widely varied performances. For Toronto and GTA, there is an abundance of performances of Messiah to choose from, and here’s the 2019 list of Handel’s greatest hit: Messiah.

Iconic Toronto Messiah with Tafelmusik and TSO

Tafelmusik and TSO perennially draw the biggest crowds for the holiday Messiah, and with four performances each, it’s bound to fit into your crazy holiday schedule. With their central downtown locations, there’s not even a need to worry about driving and parking. The blockbuster YYZ productions of Messiah.

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir
Dec. 17, 18, 19, 20, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Ivars Taurins conducts Messiah with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir in the beautiful Koerner hall, with soloists Margot Rood, Lucile Richardot, Thomas Hobbs and Peter Harvey. TM’s dedication to historical performance really shines, especially with their text delivery, making this production a great opportunity to compare your Messiah soundscape. For each performance, audiences are welcomed to join in for a free pre-concert chat with Ann Monoyios. Details are available online and at the Koerner Hall Box Office (416-408-0208).

Toronto Symphony Orchestra with Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
Dec. 17, 18, 20, 21 (8 p.m.), 22 (3 p.m.) 2019
Alexander Shelly from National Arts Centre Orchestra, conducts Handel’s Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. This year, TSO features familiar and beloved soloists Jane Archibald, Emily D’Angelo, Isaiah Bell and Russell Braun. Tickets are available online, and at the RTH box office.

Children’s Messiah

Pax Christi Chorale’s Children’s Messiah
Nov. 30, 2019, 4-5 p.m.
Short and sweet, bring the young ones and there will be no need to keep them silenced in this child-centered presentation. With additional sing-along carols and live orchestra, the little ones will have plenty to explore. Accessible to all groups, with pay-what-you-can at the door at the Church of the Redeemer; details here.

Soundstreams Electric Messiah (Photo courtesy of
Soundstreams Electric Messiah (Photo courtesy of

Messiah Updated:

Soundstreams: Electric Messiah
Dec. 10-12, 2019, 8 p.m.
Contrary to the popular concepts of Messiah: Tradition, Zeitgeist and Resurrection, Soundstreams ask a different question: could Messiah stay relevant to our times, even with 101,402 days and nights between its premiere and the opening night of SS’ annual Electric Messiah? Find out on 10-12 December 2019, set in the chill of the Drake Underground. This year’s cast includes: Lindsay McIntyre, Chloe Charles, Jonathan MacArthur, Andrew Adridge, SlowPitchSound (DJ) and Lybido (Dancer). Details here.

Classic, Traditional Messiah in Toronto Area

Tradition grounds us, and what better way to celebrate the magic of Christmas than a live performance of the Messiah? It’s an embarrassment of riches here in Toronto for Messiah performances, so browse slowly and take your choice pick. So many different settings and groups. So little time.

Toronto Choral Society: Messiah and Carols — A Christmas Celebration
Dec. 6, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
One of the oldest choral societies in Canada — founded in 1845, Toronto Choral Society was the first group to present the Messiah in Toronto in 1872. Director Geoffrey Butler continues this tradition with a 150-voice choir and the Talisker Players, interspersing fav ourite carols with Messiah at the lovely Koerner Hall. Details here.

Toronto Classical Singers and Talisker Players
Dec. 8, 2019, 4 p.m.
A midtown event at the Christ Church Deer Park. Jurgen Petrenko and TCS have been singing for past 28 years in Toronto, and with the expertise of Talisker Players, this event is a strong choice for an afternoon Messiah concert. Details here.

Elmer Isler Singers and Amadeus Choir: Glorious Sounds of Handel: Messiah
Dec. 13, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
What’s better than one choir? Two choirs! Toronto choral giant EIS presents Messiah under Lydia Adams’ direction. This year, the guest list includes the Amadeus Choir, and soloists Leslie Fagan, Daniel Cabena, Michael Colvin and Alexander Dobson. Organist Patricia Wright will breathe life into the mighty Casavant of Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, alongside two Roberts on trumpets (Venables, DiVito), and an orchestra — a solid choice for the midtown crowd. Details here.

Toronto Beach Chorale: Messiah for the City
Dec. 21, 2019, 4 p.m.
Conceived by the late Jack Layton, Toronto Beach Choral in partnership with St. Andrew’s, present Messiah for the City, with an 80-voice chorus combining TBC, MSC Chorus Mississauga and the Georgetown Bach Choral. CBC’s Tom Allen hosts. Tickets through invitations.

Tafelmusik’s Sing-Along Messiah (2011):

Sing-Along Messiah

If you’ve dreamed of being on that choir row, singing the best numbers ever composed in classical music, there are few singalongs you could join in this winter. What’s it like to be under the white baton tip, and sing with great instrumental accompaniment? Take your pick from this list, and grab that score on the way in — now is the chance to stand up and to sing your heart out! After all, 28,000 choirs — 3.5 million Canadians — sing regularly, and the joy of communal singing will lift the early winter fog from our minds.

Music Niagara: A day out to the beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake
Nov. 23, 2019, 7 p.m.
You get to join the Messiah Chorus and Orchestra of St. Mark’s with Mervin Fick conducting, in the scenic Niagara-on-the-Lake; a perfect event for a day out in the country. At St. Mark’s Church: 41 Byron St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, details here.

Christkindl Market, Glencolton Farms: Sing-Along Messiah Amongst The Cows
Dec. 6-7, 2019, 8 p.m.
Sugaring. Barnyard Animals. Children’s activities. Top—notch local products. Glencolton Farms is a great place — a true highlight of Ontario rural life with a real conviction for arts, and this year, the Christkindl Market marks the return of the ‘Sing-Along Messiah amongst the cows,’ at 8p.m. (market hours: 4-9 p.m.) with Symphony in the Barn musicians. An extraordinary setting to experience the Messiah — after all, Jesus was born in a barn! Details here.

Bach Elgar Choir: Bi-annual Messiah Sing-Along
Dec. 8, 2019, 3 p.m.
Second chance to join the BEC for Messiah (formal concert is on Dec. 7, a day earlier), and this time, it’s a sing-along. The emphasis is on fun, so be free to explore your voice with your friends and family, singing one of the best music scores ever written. Details here.

Tafelmusik: Sing-Along Messiah at Roy Thomson Hall
Dec. 21, 2019, 2 p.m.
This annual Sing-Along turns 38 this year, with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, joined by soloists Margot Rood, Lucile Richardot, Thomas Hobbs and Peter Harvey. Mr. Handel will lead the house in full costume and Families and children are welcome. Please note that this year, the event’s located at Roy Thomson Hall while Massey Hall goes through its revitalization. Tickets are available here, and at the RTH box office (416-872-4255).

Messiah with a scholarly note

Theotorio: A Theological Study of Oratorio, Messiah Part 1
Nov. 24, 2019, 4 p.m.
Timothy Eaton Memorial Church presents series of three sessions, culminating in the final presentation of the Messiah on Nov. 24, 4 p.m.. It started with 2 lecture-recital presentations on Nov. 10 and 17, led by Rev. Lori Diaz and Dr. Elaine Choi, and the concert itself will feature TEMC voices with guests from Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, and the KoreanCanadian Symphony Orchestra. The program includes musical selections by Beethoven, Fauré, and Bizet performed by the Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra. Details here.

Centre Place: The Story behind Handel’s Messiah
Nov. 26, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
A free, open lecture presentation with singalong and post-discussion. Where and how did the fantastic stories come from to create this great work? The event’s located right in downtown, and there’s even an offer of complimentary snacks and beverages. A fun way to spend a Tuesday evening in downtown Toronto. Reserve your space by registering online.

Niagara's Choralis Camerata
Niagara’s Choralis Camerata (Photo courtesy of

Messiah beyond Toronto

Road closures and winter driving getting on your nerves? There’s plenty of options to hear Messiah live without the drive into the city — your chance to check out your local festivities and presenters.

Masterworks of Oakville:
Nov. 23, 2019, 8 p.m. & Nov. 24, 2019, 3 p.m.
A community-based presentation with chorus of 100+ voices and orchestra. This could be your incentive to join them for the new year — inspiration awaits. Featuring soloists Allison McAuley, Erica Iris Huang, Christopher Fischer and Joel Allison, with artistic director Charles Demuynck. At St. Matthew Church, 1150 Monks Passage, Oakville, Ontario, details here.

Choralis Camerata: Taste of Handel’s Messiah
Nov. 26, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Are you a lucky soul living in Niagara-on-the-Lake? A cozy weeknight of Messiah at Fort Erie Public Library — Stevensville Branch, features a live performance of selections from Messiah by the Choralis Camerata, a community-based choir of 50 voices. Open to the public, and remember to pre-register for a ticket online, or in person at the Fort Erie Public Library branches.

Georgetown Bach Chorale and Baroque Orchestra
Nov. 29-30 2019, 8 p.m.
GBC presents the crème de la crème of Baroque Christmas music: Great Choruses from the Messiah and the Christmas Oratorio. With two evening performances in Brampton (St. Elias the Prophet on Nov. 29, Christ Church Anglican on Nov. 30), save the road angst and enjoy the riches of Baroque Christmas in Brampton. Details here.

Messiah Performed by Arcady
Nov. 30, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Right by the Lake Erie shore, Arcady ensemble, under the direction of Ronald Beckett presents Messiah at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre, Port Dover — a nice excuse to organize a weekend—out from Toronto, or simply to enjoy this great music if it’s your local. Details here.

Choralis Camerata: Messiah
Dec. 1, 2019, 2 p.m.
Choralis Camerata opens the Messiah score once more, with the support of the Welland Port Colborne Concert Association, at the Welland Centennial Secondary School. Featuring soloists Lawrence Wiliford, Christina Stelmakovich, Melissa-Maris Shriner and Michael York, under the direction of David Braun and the support of Lynne Honsberger, accompanist. Details here.

Spiritus Ensemble: Handels’ Messiah
Dec. 1, 2019, 3 p.m.
A local special for Kitchener residents. At the Church of St. John the Evangelist, Spiritus Ensemble will bring their focus and expertise on the sacred music of J.S. Bach and contemporaries in an intimate and rare setting of 18 singers with a lovely chamber orchestra. Kenneth Hull conducts, with soloists Sheila Dietrich, Jennifer Enns Modolo, Bud Roach and Richard Hrytzak. Details here.

Brott Music Festival: Messiah
Dec. 2-3, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
A popular fixture in Hamilton, Brott Festival presents two Messiah concerts, Monday at West Highland Church, and Tuesday at St. Thomas the Apostle. Featuring soloists Elizabeth Polese, Lauren Segal, Bud Roach and Jeremy Ludwig, Boris Brott will conduct the National Academy Orchestra and Arcady Ensemble. If your weekends are full of friends, food and festivities, this is a great way to sneak some live Messiah into a weekday evening. Details here.

Bach Elgar Choir: Messiah
Dec. 7, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
A Hamilton tradition, Bach Elgar Choir presented its first concert in 1905 and since then, BEC’s been busy presenting many magnificent choral works, including the North American premiere of Verdi’s Requiem and the Canadian premiere of Mahler 2. Alexander Cann will lead the BEC and orchestra through their sumptuous rendition of Messiah at the Melrose United Church. Details here.

Stratford Concert Choir: Messiah
Dec. 7, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Stratford Concert Choir presents Messiah at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Stratford, with special guests Blyth Festival Singers, and soloists Leslie Higgins, Charmaine Lormetti, James Smith and Daniel Van Winden. Tickets are available at Blowes Stationery, Fanfare Books, Hallmark-Festival Market Place, online and at the door.

Grand Philharmonic Choir and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony: Messiah
Dec. 7, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
A living testament of the region’s Mennonite and German roots and its cultural importance on community choral singing, GPC and a great selection of soloists: Mireille Asselin, Maude Brunet, Asitha Tennekoon and Samual Chan, will head this Messiah with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, under the baton of Mark Vuorinen. Details here.

Elora Singers: Singers Messiah
Dec. 8, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
A true professional choir with multiple Juno and Grammy nominations, the Elora Singers bring their A-game to the lovely little town of Fergus, Ontario. A great excuse for a leisurely drive through rural Ontario, culminating at St. Joseph Catholic Church. The choir will feature soloists of their own. Details here.

Oxford Collegium Singers and Arcady Orchestra
Dec. 15, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
The West-of-Hamilton crowd can enjoy Messiah without the long round trip this year with Oxford Collegium Singers and the Arcady Orchestra. Hosted in Knox Presbyterian Church, Woodstock, soloists Anna Boyes, Gabrielle Heidinger, Chris Fischer and Daniel Van Winden will sing Messiah under conductor Johann Van Ittersum. A lovely opportunity to see local talents; details here.

Mississauga Symphony: Highlights from Messiah
Dec. 14, 2019, 8 p.m.
A familiar ensemble rooted in the heart of the Mississauga community, Mississauga Symphony presents a selection from Messiah with guest artists Mississauga Festival Chamber Choir, and soloists Angela Yoo, Lillian Brooks, Zachary Rioux and Christopher Dunham. Details here.

Peterborough Singers
Dec. 16, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Emmanuel United Church, 534 George St. North, Peterborough, ON
Peterborough Singers present Messiah with Daniel Taylor (Counter Tenor) and soloists from the University of Toronto, Historical Performance Focus Program. Ian Sadler will sit at the historic Casavant organ, with special guests Paul Otway (trumpet) and Stan Ewing (timpani). Tickets are available online, and from selected outlets.

Choral Connection: Handel’s Messiah
Dec. 21, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Hugh Van Pelt leads the Choral Connection with soloists Katy Clark, Leah Giselle Field, Zachary Rioux and Michael Nyby, with orchestra. The concert will be hosted at Centre Street Baptist Church, 28 Southwick St., St. Thomas, and for tickets, please contact by phone/email through the website .

Guelph Chamber Choir with Musica Viva Ensemble on period instruments: Messiah
Dec. 21, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
A Guelph Tradition: GCC hosts Messiah at the River Run Center. Charlene Pauls conducts the choir with soloists Bethany Horst, Jennifer Enns-Modolo, Lawrence Wiliford and Bradley Christensen. Tickets are available online.


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