He’s an international star, one of the most sought-after countertenors, with over 100 recordings under his belt made under the batons of some of the world’s greatest conductors. And this December Daniel Taylor is coming to Peterborough for a one-night-only performance of Handel’s Messiah, where he will join a lineup of some of the most impressive established and up-and-coming solo talent.
Of the more than forty operas that Handel completed in his lifetime, none can claim such superstar status as the Messiah. One would expect no less from a man whom Beethoven called “the greatest composer that ever lived.”
And though Peterborough Singers Artistic Director Syd Birrell has directed the Messiah annually for over twenty years, he says that he not only does not tire of the work but looks forward to it as the highlight of his year. “Every year when we get to the end of the Messiah, and I’m lost in the indescribable majesty of those final pages, and I realize that there are no more pages to turn, I just want it to keep on going,” he said. “You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved to the point of tears by the Messiah.”
The magic of live performance is that no two performances are ever alike. Over the years, the Singers have welcomed some of the greatest solo talent in Canada, and indeed the world, to the stage to interpret the Messiah for Peterborough audiences.
This year Birrell and the Singers have forged a close relationship with the vocal music department at the University of Toronto, where Daniel Taylor is currently teaching. Not only will Taylor himself join the Singers for the Messiah, but he is bringing three of the top post-graduate vocal students at U of T to fill out the list of soloists, including one of the Peterborough Singers’ own alumni – tenor Jacob Abrahamse.
Birrell has always put a premium on supporting the best emerging talent, and he says the satisfaction of seeing one of the Singers’ own sing his first solo Messiah is immense. “Jacob has the whole natural package,” says Birrell. “He’s won all sorts of competitions, and he’s a thoughtful, sensitive, and truly impressive vocalist who blew away our audition process. He has truly earned this opportunity, a milestone in the career of every vocal soloist.”
In addition to Taylor and Abrahamse, Joel Allison will sing bass and Ottawa native Ellen McAteer will sing soprano. Accompanying the Singers on the organ will be Ian Sadler.
This year the Singers will present the Messiah on Monday, Dec. 19, at 7:30 pm at Emmanuel United Church (formerly called George Street United Church).
So why should you get tickets to this year’s performance? “To hear one of the most sought-after countertenors in the world,” says Birrell. “To hear the Peterborough Singers reinterpret this greatest of oratorios – the foundation on which, historically, all choral societies are built – one more time. To see your friends up there, singing their hearts out. To hear that wall of sound that will sweep you away into a world of beauty and majesty for two hours.”
Appearing on more than 100 recordings, Daniel Taylor and his projects have been recognized by a GRAMMY as well as by JUNO, OPUS, and ADISQ prizes. 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 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; he has sung on the stages of many of the world’s great opera houses and joined forces with many of the world’s great orchestras.