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The reviews are in. The Singers’ last concert of 2019 was “a joyous evening, and a great way to start the holidays.” This season, Artistic Director Syd Birrell and famous countertenor Daniel Taylor cooked up a wonderful idea—bringing fourteen of the most promising vocal students from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music to perform the solos. Choir members were so excited by this idea that they responded by donating the money to pay for these soloists to perform, raising more than $3,000 in about a week and a half.

Countertenor Daniel Taylor with the 2019 Messiah soloists. Pictured from left to right are Veronika Anissimova, Kayla Ruiz, Michaela O’Connor, Jane Fingler, Georgia Burashko, Adam Kuiack, Matthew Li, Daniel Taylor, Arieh Sacke, David Walsh, Danielle Nicholson, Lindsay McIntyre, Ryan McDonald, and Rebecca Genge.


The initiative of using student soloists was an inspired one, and greatly appreciated by audience members.

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The soloists were outstanding (as of course was the choir), and I’m sure they will all have wonderful careers ahead of them


People appreciated not only the quality of the solo work but also the variety, as another commentator makes clear: “I thought it was a brilliant idea to have university students as soloists. I must confess that in previous Messiah concerts my mind would wander in some of the longer arias, but not this time. Those young students had my attention.”

But some of the most enthusiastic comments were made about the choir, about “the concentration etched on the choristers’ faces” and “the passion in their voices”:

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I just wanted to commend you and all involved on a such magnificent concert! I believe that it is the best I have ever heard the choir sing! The energy was fantastic, and the sound was rich and full.


Others who had never attended a Peterborough Singers’ concert before this one confessed to be “stunned”—”totally shocked at the scale and quality of a concert presented here in Peterborough.” One woman from Gores Landing remarked that the performance was “easily equal to or better than” some of her many different recordings of the oratorio, “performed by choirs and orchestras from all over the world.”

The soloist not pictured above, Nicholas Veltmeyer, was selected to conduct the “encore” version (with audience) of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

For choir members, however, one of the most gratifying compliments came from the talented organist Ian Sadler, who is the orchestra of each Peterborough Singers’ Messiah. Let’s end with that comment.


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Messiah was truly wonderful on Monday…. The choir sang with a freshness which often escapes those choral groups for whom Messiah is a well-trodden path. It was great to work with Daniel and the student soloists, too.


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