Handel’s Messiah

Monday, December 17, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Emmanuel United Church East (formerly George Street United), Peterborough

Featuring: Shannon McCracken, soprano | Daniel Taylor, countertenor | Benjamin Butterfield, tenor| Geoffrey Sirett, baritone | Ian Sadler, organ | Paul Otway, trumpet | Stan Ewing, timpani |

“Handel knows better than any of us what will make an effect . . . when he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt.” — W.A. Mozart

It’s been written that Handel wept and saw angels while composing the Hallelujah chorus. Handel’s great work Messiah captures the joy and wonder of the holiday season and has remained popular since its first performance in Dublin in April 1742. Experience the power of 100 voices and the majesty of the mighty Casavant organ in this time-honoured celebration.

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Shannon McCracken has performed across Canada and is equally at home in plays, musicals, film, television, and on the concert stage. She is pleased to be joining the Peterborough Singers again for another Messiah.

Shannon’s oratorio work includes Handel’s Messiah with the Peterborough Singers, the Grand River Chorus, and Wilfrid Laurier University’s chamber choir and orchestra; Vivaldi’s Gloria with Choral Connection; and Bach’s Magnificat in D Major with the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir. As well as frequenting as a guest soloist for choirs and orchestras, Shannon has sung alongside Colm Wilkinson and has been featured in cabarets at The Banff Centre, with New Stages, and at the inaugural Women of Musical Theatre Festival in Toronto.

On the stage, some of Shannon’s favourite credits include Raising the Barn and Living History (Globus Theatre), Esme in the world premiere of Buying the Farm (Port Stanley Festival Theatre), Galinda in Wicked (CMTP/Toronto Fringe), Amalia in She Loves Me (CMTP), Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music (Port Hope Festival Theatre); and Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Laurier).

Shannon holds an Honours BMus in Voice Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University and is an alumnus of both the Banff Centre’s Musical Theatre Professional Intensive program and the Theatre 20 Conservatory. When she is not on stage or set, she is either teaching from her home voice studio in Peterborough or walking her dog in the woods.



A Sony Classical artist, Daniel Taylor is sought-after for his portrayals on the opera and concert stage, on CD/DVD, and in film. He has appeared on more than 100 recordings, and his projects have been recognized by a GRAMMY as well as with the JUNO, OPUS, and ADISQ prizes. Daniel Taylor is the founder and artistic director of the Trinity Choir. His tireless curiosity, devotion to classical music, and passion have established him as one of the leading up-and-coming conductors in the period and modern fields. Daniel Taylor made his debut as the first guest conductor in the history of the Tallis Scholars. He also debuted recently with the Kammerchor Stuttgart, the Musica Angelica Orchestra, and the Gabrieli Consort. He is also founder and artistic director of the Choir and Orchestra of the Theatre of Early Music, with whom he has toured worldwide and made many award-winning recordings. His new professional ensemble, the Trinity Choir, released its first recording Four Thousand Winter on the SONY label in 2015 – this disc was voted “Best Classical Recording” by the CBC/SRC.

Daniel has appeared at Glyndebourne, the Rome Opera, the Welsh National Opera, the Canadian Opera, Opera North, in Munich, and at the New York Metropolitan Opera. He has joined leading orchestras including the San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, London, Lisbon, and Cleveland orchestras, as well as the New York Philharmonic, the Gothenburg Symphony, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He has also performed with the Monverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, Les Arts Florissants, the Bach Collegium, and the Berlin Akademie für Alte Musik.

Daniel has performed for Canadian prime ministers, for the Queen of England, for the King and Queen of Sweden, and for the King and Queen of Spain. His devotion to sacred music has been recognized by the award of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. His commitment to working with young musicians includes his teaching at summer courses at the Siena Liberal Arts University in Italy and the Victoria Conservatory in British Columbia; he has offered master classes at the Beijing Conservatory, the Sao Paolo Conservatory, the Royal Academy of Music, the Guildhall, the Royal College of Music, and the University of Vienna, as well as at leading Universities across North America. The University of Toronto recently appointed Daniel Taylor to the position of Head of Historical Performance and Professor of Voice and Opera at the Faculty of Music.



Praised by The New York Times as “clarion-voiced and vibrant,” Benjamin Butterfield is known for his performances throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. He has performed with many of the world’s leading conductors including Sir Andrew Davis, James Conlon, Nicholas McGegan, Charles Dutoit, Leonard Slatkin, Bramwell Tovey, Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Labadie, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Jeffrey Thomas, Trevor Pinnock, Bruno Weil and Marc Minkowski.

Recent performances include those at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (Haydn’s Creation) and at Lincoln Center with the American Classical Orchestra. He has also been featured by the Utah Symphony (Mozart’s Requiem) and the Kansas City Symphony (Messiah), and he has performed Haydn Masses with the San Diego Symphony and L’Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and Britten’s Serenade and War Requiem with L’ Orchestre Lyrique de Montréal and the Victoria Symphony. Butterfield has also appeared at the Pacific Baroque Festival under conductor Marc Destrubé and at the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival in Vermont (Schubert’s Auf dem Strom and Janacek’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared), as well as with Luminous Voices (Mozart’s Requiem) and the Elgin Symphony (Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony). He makes frequent appearances with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, including at the choir’s annual two-week Bach Festival.

Most recently as an interpreter of opera, he portrayed the role of Mime in Das Rheingold with Pacific Opera and was stage director for Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival. Other operatic roles include Grimoaldo in Handel’s Rodelinda and Jupiter in Semele with Pacific Opera Victoria, Frère Massée in Messiaen’s St. François d’Assise with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony, Tamino in The Magic Flute with the Toronto Symphony, and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Calgary Opera.

A prolific recording artist, he has recorded for Analekta, Dorian, CBC Records, Koch International, and Timpani (France). He has also been featured in Handel’s Messiah on ZDF at the Handel-Festspiele Halle with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert and on CBC Radio as a guest host for the program This Is My Music. Recently, Mr. Butterfield recorded the St. John Passion with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem (Analekta), the Riehn transcription of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde for Yellow Barn, and a sixth CD of Ukrainian art songs for the Ukrainian Art Song Project in Toronto.

Associate professor, head of voice, and co-head of performance for the School of Music at the University of Victoria, Butterfield is the 2015 recipient of that university’s Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Artistic Expression. He has also served as guest faculty for Opera Nuova, the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy, The Victoria Conservatory Summer Vocal Academy, the Vancouver International Song Institute, Yellow Barn, and Opera on the Avalon.



Baritone Geoffrey Sirett has emerged as one of Canada’s finest young baritones, and he is highly sought after across the country for a wide range of operatic and concert repertoire.

His charisma as an actor and a singer made him an ideal choice for the leading role in the world premiere of The Overcoat, a musical version of the stage hit presented by Vancouver Opera, CanStage, and Tapestry Opera in the spring of 2018. His 2017-18 season also included his debut on the Four Seasons Centre stage in the Canadian Opera Company production of Arabella, the role of Captain Corcoran in Edmonton Opera’s H.M.S Pinafore, and a performance in Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins with the Toronto Symphony. During the summer of 2016, Sirett returned to Nova Scotia for a repeat of the hit production The Bells of Baddeck, which was followed closely by a Banff workshop for the Toronto Symphony’s presentation of Seven Deadly Sins. In 2016-17, he also appeared as Oreste in Elektra and Ping in Turandot for the Edmonton Opera, in Mendelssohn’s Elijah for the Pax Christi Chorale, in Handel’s Messiah for the Newfoundland Symphony, and in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis for the Grand Philharmonic Choir, as well as in a concert with the Bach Elgar Choir of Hamilton.

Geoffrey is a graduate of the University of Toronto where he completed a Master’s in Music (Opera). He is the winner of awards and prizes from a number of competitions including the Canadian Conservatory Vocal Competition, the Ottawa Choral Society Competition, the Czech and Slovak International Voice Competition, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and he received 2nd place and the “Best Performance of a Canadian Work” Award in the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal Competition. He is a five-time grant recipient of the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation and winner of the Vancouver Opera Guild Career Development Grant.

Winner of the Norcop Song Prize, he has recently appeared in performances for the Aldeburgh Connection and the Bayfield Festival of Song with pianist Stephen Ralls, for the Van Cliburn Foundation with composer/pianist Ricky Ian Gordon, and for the Chautauqua Institution with pianists Craig Rutenberg and Mikael Eliasen. Collaborating with pianist Stephen Ralls, he recorded his first solo album, Vagabond, a disc devoted to the works of Vaughan Williams, Butterworth, and Britten. The CD also includes premiere recordings of Canadian composers Ivan Barbotin and Jocelyn Morlock. Additional recordings include Airline Icarus (Naxos), an opera by Brian Current; The Heart’s Refuge (Analekta), a JUNO-nominated CD from the Theatre of Early Music; and The Vale of Tears (Analekta), also from the Theatre of Early Music.



Ian Sadler began his musical training as a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. He then won a music scholarship to The King’s School, Canterbury, followed by an organ scholarship to Bristol University. During postgraduate study at London University, Ian held the Organ Scholarship at St. Paul’s Cathedral from 1978-80. Ian holds degrees in musicology and education, with organ diplomas from Trinity College of Music, London, and The Royal College of Organists. Before Ian moved to Canada, his final engagement in the UK was to play the organ in the movie, Chariots of Fire.

Ian moved to Canada in 1980 following his appointments in Toronto as Director of Music at Grace Church-on-the-Hill and Choral Director at Upper Canada College. In 1986, the year that he became a Canadian citizen, he won 1st prize at the Syracuse International Organ Playing Competition in the USA. As a Canadian recitalist, Ian has toured extensively. Tours have taken him to  Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France (Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris), Austria (Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral), Australia (Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide, and Melbourne), the USA (New York, Boston, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, San Francisco, and Hawaii), and back to the UK (Winchester Cathedral, Truro Cathedral, Norwich Cathedral, York Minster, St. Giles – Edinburgh, Coventry Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, King’s College Cambridge, and St. Paul’s Cathedral). In 2000, Ian was presented with a Juno award for a choral CD by his Burlington chamber choir, Pro Musica. Ian has been involved with the launching of the organs at three major concert halls in Canada.  He was invited to perform a programme of British music in the inaugural series of organ recitals at Jack Singer Hall, Calgary. He played the first recital in the inaugural series at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall and performed with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in a programme entitled “A Night At The Movies” to inaugurate the organ at the Winspeare Centre.

For his dedication to promoting the organ and Canadian music, both at home and abroad, The Royal Canadian College of Organists honoured Ian in 2007 with its highest award: “Fellowship of The Royal Canadian College of Organists.”

In 2016, Ian was appointed Organist of St. James’ Cathedral in Toronto. Ian is also conductor of The Stratford Concert Choir, a position he has held since 1989. He is also conductor of The Cathedral Singers of Ontario, a choir which he founded in 1999. In December 2017, this choir sang for a week of services at Chichester Cathedral in England. In August 2018, The Cathedral Singers of Ontario will be choir-in-residence for a week at Ely Cathedral.



Paul Otway is a freelance trumpet player in Southern Ontario. He works with several orchestras including the Windsor Symphony, the Ontario Philharmonic, the Toronto Concert Orchestra, the Talisker Players, the Niagara Symphony, and the Peterborough Symphony. Paul has also performed with the Canadian Opera Company, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Hamilton Philharmonic, and Orchestra London.

Paul has played in numerous Mirvish productions including Strictly Ballroom, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, and Les Misérables, as well as in Dancap Productions including My Fair Lady, Anne of Green Gables, South Pacific, and West Side Story. He has also performed in several productions at the Shaw Festival. Paul has been a part of over 40 professional productions, including ballets, operas, and musicals. He was also involved in the world premiere engagement of Sousatzka. Freelance work has allowed him to play with many well-known artists including Diana Krall, Boy George, Josh Groban, Marvin Hamlisch, and Idina Menzel.

Paul’s playing has been recorded on several CDs and broadcast on CBC Radio with a variety of ensembles. Paul can be seen in the movie Fever Pitch (look for the trumpet player!). He has performed for live audiences in 36 states and 7 provinces.




Stan Ewing was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and showed an interest in music at an early age. Upon emigrating to Canada, he became the Bandmaster of the Danforth Citadel Band in Toronto, before moving to Peterborough in 1978. Stan was a member of the Salvation Army Staff Band for 16 years, serving with distinction in the percussion section. The Staff Band travelled on conducted tours of the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and the United States, as well to many parts of Canada.

Stan has been involved with the Salvation Army Summer Music Camp programme and has been Bandmaster of the Peterborough Temple Band since 1985. Stan is also in demand to play with local community and theatre groups.