We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.

FEATURE | Four Messiahs: Toronto Audiences Can Choose Different Interpretations And Expressions Of Handel’s Iconic Work

By Anya Wassenberg on November 30, 2023

From top left, clockwise: Against the Grain Theatre's Messiah/Complex (Still courtesy of AtG); The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Photo courtesy of the TSO); Turntable image courtesy of Soundstreams; Tafelmusik (Photo courtesy of Tafelmusik)
From top left, clockwise: Against the Grain Theatre’s Messiah/Complex (Still courtesy of AtG); The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Photo courtesy of the TSO); Turntable image courtesy of Soundstreams; Tafelmusik (Photo courtesy of Tafelmusik)

George Friderick Handel composed one of his best known, and certainly the most beloved, works in a mere 24 days in the late summer of 1741. More than 280 years later, it remains one of the most popular works of the choral and repertoire. The oratorio first premiered in 1742 at a charity event in Dublin to unanimous acclaim.

With its glorious music and message of unity, there’s no secret to its enduring appeal. Here’s a look at just a few of the Messiahs you can experience in Toronto this holiday season.

Messiah with the TSO | December 17-23, 2023

The TSO and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir team up for their week-long celebration of Handel’s holiday favourite. The performers include:

  • Dame Jane Glover, conductor
  • Lauren Snouffer, soprano
  • Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano
  • Colin Ainsworth, tenor
  • Joshua Hopkins, baritone
  • Toronto Symphony Orchestra
  • Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
  • Jean-Sébastien Vallée, chorusmaster

The Draw

If you like your Messiah with a dash of grandeur, it’s the TSO and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir at Roy Thomson Hall, with high profile soloists to make it a powerhouse performance. It’s also a rare chance to see Dame Jane Alison Glover DBE conducting on this side of The Pond. Maestra Glover is a trailblazer who met Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears at the age of 16 through her father, and she is a recording artist and published author as well as a distinguished conductor of orchestral music and operas.

  • More information and tickets available [HERE].

Tafelmusik: Handel Messiah | December 14 to 16 & Sing-Along Messiah | December 17

Tafelmusik’s traditional version of the Messiah has been a city favourite for decades. The orchestra and Chamber Choir are led by Ivars Taurins, with Georg Handel himself taking the lead for the Sing-Along performance. Soloist include:

  • Rachel Redmond, soprano
  • Cameron Shahbazi, countertenor
  • James Reese, tenor
  • Enrico Lagasca, bass-baritone

The Draw

You’ll experience Handel’s music in an authentic style and spirit by the city’s acclaimed Baroque specialists. Along with the usual performances, the Sing-Along Messiah gives everyone a chance to belt out those gorgeous melodies along with the pros at Koerner Hall.

  • Tickets and more informtion for regular performances available [HERE].
  • Tickets and more informtion for the Sing-Along Messiah available [HERE].

Special: Hallelujah Chorus | December 6

As a countdown to the concerts, composer Georg Frideric Handel (aka Ivars Taurins in full period costume and powdered wig,) will lead members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra & Chamber Choir in the Hallelujah Chorus in the West Wing of Union Station in downtown Toronto.

They’ll perform the Hallelujah Chorus three times between 5 and 6 p.m. on December 6.

Soundstreams: Electric Messiah | December 14 to 17

For something completely different, Soundstreams’ offers a constantly changing remix of Handel’s masterpiece. Music director and sound designer Adam Scime rounds up an eclectic set of collaborators each year to riff off the holiday classic. This year’s cast includes:

  • Chelsea Dab Hilke, stage director;
  • Adam Scime, music director and sound design;
  • Midori Marsh, soprano;
  • Rebecca Cuddy mezzo-soprano;
  • Elizabeth Shepherd, vocals;
  • Daniel Cabena, counter-tenor;
  • Korin Thomas-Smith, baritone.

The instrumental ensemble includes: Amahl Arulanandam, electric cello; Wesley Shen, harpsichord; Luan Phung, electric/acoustic guitar; and Joel Visentin, electric organ.

The Draw

This is The Messiah as seen through the lens of contemporary artists and interpreters. The concert will include both composed and improvised new music by Adam Scime, and the live premiere of O Death, O Grave by acclaimed Métis-French Canadian composer Ian Cusson. You’ll experience a completely new take on The Messiah.

  • Tickets and more information available [HERE].

Against the Grain: Messiah/Complex | Available to stream online December 10, 2023 to January 7, 2024

Against the Grain Theatre’s Messiah/Complex takes Handel’s universal themes and gives them a distinctly Canadian spin. Soloists perform in iconic sites from Arctic snowscapes to Toronto’s urban jungle.

The Draw

Produced during the pandemic, the film garnered acclaim from across the globe for its reimagining of the holiday tradition. Along with the music, the film is cinematic in scope, and Canada’s diversity shines through it. The soloists sing in several languages, and include Cree-Métis baritone Jonathon Adams; Inuktitut singer-songwriter Looee Arreak; British Columbia tenor Spencer Britten; Canadian-Tunisian mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb in Montreal; Edmonton-born mezzo-soprano Catherine Daniel; Inuk singer Deantha Edmunds in Newfoundland & Labrador; Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday in Northwest Territories; Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil; Saskatchewan soprano Andrea Lett; Diyet van Lieshout, who sings in Southern Tutchone, from Yukon Territory; Métis singer Julie Lumsden; and Toronto-born baritone Elliot Madore.

  • Register to view free [HERE].

Are you looking to promote an event? Have a news tip? Need to know the best events happening this weekend? Send us a note.


Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig Van Toronto e-Blast! — local classical music and opera news straight to your inbox HERE.

Follow me
Share this article
comments powered by Disqus


company logo

Part of

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy
© 2024 | Executive Producer Moses Znaimer