Volume 12 Week 5

Tueday, Dec. 8


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Bob Monette





(Posted 11:30 p.m., Dec. 8)

Coro Vivo and friends give triumphant performance of Handel's Messiah
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

It's been nearly a decade since the Blackburn Chorus celebrated the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with a superlative performance of the Austrian composer's Requiem in Dominion Chalmers Church.

At the time and in the years since, it's stood at the top of my list of all-time favourite choral performances. That space is now shared by Coro Vivo's powerfully moving performance of Handel's Messiah at the Shenkman Arts Centre on Saturday.

Coro Vivo performs Handel's Messiah at the Shenkman Arts Centre on Saturday under the direction of Antonio Llaca. Fred Sherwin/Photo

To perform the Messiah you need three key ingredients -- a superb chorus, a talented orchestra and outstanding soloists. Saturday night's performance had all three, not to mention an exceptional venue.

I've been hoping and wishing that Coro Vivo would hold a concert in the Harold Shenkman Hall ever since the Shenkman Arts Centre opened in 2009. On Saturday, my wish was granted and the result was truly magical. Hallelujah!

Ottawa's Virtuosi Orchestra provided the musical accompaniment, while soprano Joan Fearnley, mezzo-soprano Arminé Kassabian, tenor Jeffery Boyd were the invited soloists.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with Handel's Messiah it is the composition with the "Hallelujah" chorus.

The English-language oratorio was composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741 using a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible.

The composition covers the story of Christ from Biblical prophecy to his ascendancy into Heaven in three parts. Part I begins with the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi on the coming of the Messiah and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds and Christ's healing and redemption.

In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the "Hallelujah" chorus, while Part III covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ's glorification in Heaven.

Part I allows each of the soloists to truly shine, starting with the tenor, moving to the mezzo-soprano, and finishing with the soprano.

All three of the soloists featured in the Coro Vivo concert were amazing. I was especially impressed by soprano Joan Fearnley and her recital of the three movements making up "The annunciation to the shepherds", and the 52nd movement, "The final conquest of sin".

But the highlight of any performance of Handel's Messiah is the "Hallelujah" chorus and Coro Vivo didn't disappoint.

At close to 90 uninterrupted minutes in length, the Messiah is a rather ambitious project for any chorus to tackle and Coro Vivo did a superb job from the opening line of the fourth movement to the final "Amen."

Needless to say, it was a real treat and somewhat of an honour to have been present for Coro Vivo's maiden performance at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Here's hoping they make a speedy return.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)



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