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Handel's Messiah to heat up Morinville

Orchestra and chorus from Concordia University College to deliver Handel's power and tenderness

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 08, 2012 06:00 am

HANDEL'S MESSIAH – The Concordia Chorus will fill the Morinville Community Cultural Centre with the power of a holiday classic on Sunday.
HANDEL'S MESSIAH – The Concordia Chorus will fill the Morinville Community Cultural Centre with the power of a holiday classic on Sunday.
Supplied photo

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Handel’s Messiah
Concordia Symphony Orchestra, Concordia Chorus and Pro Coro Canada soloists
Sunday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m.
Morinville Community Cultural Centre
9502 – 100 Ave.
Tickets: $25/adults; $20/seniors; $10/students. Call 780-420-1757 or purchase online at

Handel’s greatest hit, a grand orchestral sound of faith and hope, premieres this coming Sunday at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.

The Concordia Symphony Orchestra and Concordia Chorus join forces with four outstanding soloists from Pro Coro Canada to sing Messiah, a glorious and stirring holiday tradition.

More than just beautiful music, Messiah is a seven-part emotive and powerful drama about Jesus, beginning with the prophecy of his birth to his ascension into heaven.

Conducted by Dr. Joy Berg, the soloists and choristers will only sing Part 1 of Handel’s beloved oratorio. It encompasses an Old Testament prediction of the Messiah’s coming, a celebration of the Virgin birth and announces the arrival to local shepherds.

“Part 1 is the telling of Christ’s coming. The chorus’ role is to exclaim, proclaim and rejoice as a choir of angels. They are loud and fast. But there are also some very gentle and beautiful passages for the soloists to sing,” Berg said.

Handel, a deeply religious man who was living in England at the time he composed Messiah in 1740, penned it in about three weeks.

“It’s an incredible venture into composition when you think how long the oratorio is,” said Berg, describing the combination of thunderous power and gentle tenderness.

Ironically, it was only partially embraced at the London debut. But in the past 200 years it has become his most popular choral work and has probably been recorded more than any of his other compositions.

Morinville’s cultural centre will probably set a new record with 100 choristers and 32 symphonic musicians packed on stage. In a special tie-in, cultural services manager Laurie Stalker is also a cellist in the symphony and will draw her bow.

It was actually Stalker who extended the invitation to Concordia University College to perform. Berg, an associate professor at Concordia and choral conductor of two choirs, took on the task of assembling a quartet of Edmonton’s finest classical singers. The foursome consists of soprano Jolaine Kerley, alto Mireille Rijavec, bass Jordan Van Biert and St. Albert tenor Robert King.

Not only will the soloists sing individual lines, but they also form a second chorus that holds back-and-forth musical conversations with the mass choir.

“The soloists are very confident singers so projection is important when there’s an orchestra behind them. But they have bright voices where they stand out individually and blend well together,” Berg explained.

Sung in English, the 70-minute work is easy to understand. And the music is at once sublime and majestic, a work that nourishes and breathes life into an empty soul.

“The music describes the words. People with limited knowledge of music will understand the sense and get what he (Handel) is trying to do,” Berg said. “If you know Baroque music, the concert will bring out more of the drama and depth of what he is trying to do.”

The second part of the concert is a carol-sing in the lobby accompanied by refreshments. Warm up the vocal chords for Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Little Town of Bethlehem.

“For us it is a real honour to be part of the tradition knowing how much it means to the community.”


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