The Peterborough Singers’ annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah is just a little over a week away (December 18), and excitement is building as current Singers and alumni gather to rehearse this beloved oratorio.
This year will be remarkable in many ways. Barring ill health, we should have a record number of choristers, some of whom will be singing their very first Messiah. Needless to say, Messiah novices have been working exceptionally hard to keep up with the many choir members who have sung this popular work at least once a year for fifty or more years.
As always, Artistic Director Syd Birrell has attracted a stellar cast of soloists. Soprano Suzie LeBlanc, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, “has a superb ability to take the wonderfully pure sound she can make, over which she has consummate control, and wrap it in something luscious and special before giving it to you.” Opera Canada describes the voice of mezzo-soprano Erin Fisher as “luminous…sinuous and effortlessly expressed.” Tenor Colin Ainsworth received rave reviews for his “iron-clad dramatic singing” in the part of Jason (Medea presented by Opera Atelier in 2017). And CBC Radio recently likened the “confident and rich” voice of baritone Andrew Tees to “a jolt of espresso.”
When you add organist Ian Sadler, the backbone of the Singers’ Messiah performance, and favourite musicians Paul Otway (trumpet) and Stan Ewing (tympani), that’s a lot to live up to.