Classical Music

The Season Of Messiahs

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With the holiday season approaching and the pandemic hopefully almost behind us, Handel’s Messiah is returning in full force, with a proliferation of productions in southern Ontario. These productions will no doubt get you into the holiday spirit.



Patrick Dupré Quigley conducts the NAC orchestra along with the Capital Chamber Choir and Cantata Singers of Ottawa in this production, which features soloists Mireille Asselin (soprano), Julie Boulianne (mezzo), Lawrence Wiliford (tenor) and Norman Garrett (bass-baritone). Dec. 14 and 15 at Southam Hall in the National Arts Centre, Ottawa.


Gustavo Gimeno conducts his first TSO Messiah since becoming Music Director, along with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, led by Jean-Sébastien Vallée. The star-powered roster of soloists will include Lauren Fagan (soprano), Stephanie Wake-Edwards (mezzo), Michael Colvin (tenor) and Elliot Madore (baritone). Dec. 17-21 at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.


A cherished Toronto holiday tradition since 1981, Tafelmusik’s Messiah is conducted by Ivars Taurins, with a stellar cast of soloists that includes Karina Gauvin (soprano), Christopher Lowrey (countertenor), Valerio Contaldo (tenor) and Brett Polegato (baritone). Dec. 16 and 17 at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre in Toronto.


Lydia Adams conducts this 20-voice fully-professional choral ensemble with special guest choir Viva Chamber Singers of Toronto and a chamber orchestra. They will be joined by soloists Meredith Hall (soprano), Andrea Ludwig (mezzo), Owen McCausland (tenor) and Jorell Williams (baritone). Dec. 9 at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church in Toronto.


Despite his untimely passing earlier this year, the legacy of Boris Brott lives on under Interim Artistic Director Alain Trudel, who will conduct the National Academy Orchestra and the Brott Festival Chorus in an abridged Messiah without intermission. Featured soloists include Sydney Baedke (soprano), Lillian Brooks (mezzo), Bud Roach (tenor) and David John Pike (baritone). Dec. 5 at West Highland Church in Hamilton and Dec. 6 at Burlington Performing Arts Centre.


The HPO and the Bach Elgar Choir come together for Handel’s monumental work, led by Music Director Gemma New, and featuring soloists Meredith Hall (soprano), Jennifer Enns Modolo (mezzo), Benjamin Butterfield (tenor) and Giles Tomkins (bass). Dec. 16 and 18 at Central Presbyterian Church in Hamilton.


Directed by Dr. Charlene Pauls, this 35-voice ensemble will be accompanied by Musica Viva Orchestra, a 15-piece chamber group. Soloists include Sydney Baedke (soprano), Marion Newman (alto), Adam Luther (tenor) and Dion Mazerolle (bass). As a special treat this year, local high school singers will be joining on stage for the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Dec. 17 at River Run Centre in Guelph.


Artistic Director Emeritus Howard Dyck leads the Grand Philharmonic Choir and members of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in this production, along with soloists Megan Chartrand (soprano), Julie Boulianne (mezzo), Colin Ainsworth (tenor) and Jesse Blumberg (baritone). Dec. 10 at Centre in the Square in Kitchener.


Conducted by Robert Franz, the Windsor Symphony presents an 80-minute, no intermission program of highlights from the Messiah in three cities, joined by the Windsor Classic Chorale and soloists Caitlin Wood (soprano) and Christopher Dunham (bass). Dec 1. at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Windsor; Dec. 2 at Leamington Mennonite Church; and Dec 4. at St. Anne’s Church in Tecumseh.


This ensemble of 12 professional voices, along with its small chamber orchestra, will present an intimate Messiah under the baton of Ronald Beckett. All members of the ensemble will rotate to perform solo roles. Dec. 3 at Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover.


Led by Syd Birrell, the 95-singer chorus is accompanied by organ and trumpets in an abridged Messiah with no intermission. Guest soloists will feature rising stars Shannon McCracken (soprano), Martina Myskohlid (mezzo), Jacob Abrahamse (tenor) and Alex Halliday (bass). Dec. 12 at Emmanuel United Church, Peterborough.



This beloved OCM holiday tradition will be conducted by Simon Rivard, featuring the Filles de l’île and the Chantres musiciens choirs, and soloists Hélène Brunet (soprano), Rose Naggar-Tremblay (contralto), Zachary Rioux (tenor) and Phillip Addis (baritone). Dec. 13 at Crypt of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.


Performing in six cities in Quebec, Festival Classica’s production of Messiah will transport you back to the 18th century. Similar to the ensemble size during Handel’s time, conductor Matthias Maute will lead 13 musicians from Ensemble Caprice on period instruments and 12 to 20 choristers from Ensemble vocal Arts-Québec. The quartet of Quebec soloists will include Myriam Leblanc (soprano), Florence Bourget (mezzo), Antonio Figueroa (tenor) and Marc Bouche (baritone). Dec. 1 at Église Sainte-Famille de Boucherville; Dec. 3 at Palais Montcalm in Quebec City; Dec. 4 at Maison symphonique in Montreal; Dec. 7 at Paroisse catholique de Saint-Lambert; Dec. 8 at Le Camillois in Saint-Camille; and Dec. 11 at Théâtre du Vieux-Terrebonne.

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