Peterborough Singers’ Messiah to Feature a Sumptuous Smörgåsbord of Top-Notch Soloists

By John Jalsevac**
Everybody knows what a smörgåsbord is. The name for the famous Swedish buffet-style meal is used ubiquitously to describe any sort of lavish collection of rare and enjoyable items. However, in Sweden, the king of the smörgåsbords is the julbord, a sumptuous meal featuring a wide array of delicacies served up around Christmas-time.

This Christmas season, the Peterborough Singers are serving up their own musical twist on the julbord, with a performance of Handel’s Messiah that will feature a varied spread of fourteen soloists, rather than the typical four.

This musical feast is the brainchild of Peterborough Singers Director Syd Birrell and world-famous countertenor Daniel Taylor.

Taylor, easily one of the world’s most-celebrated countertenors, has developed an enthusiasm for the Peterborough Singers, after performing with them on multiple previous occasions beginning in 1994 when he was still a student himself. These days, he is serving as the Head of Historical Performance in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, where he is coaching many of the country’s most-promising vocal students.

For this year’s Messiah performance, Taylor has selected fourteen of his top students, each of whom will perform one of the solo sections of the Messiah on December 16, at Emmanuel United Church in Peterborough.

In some cases, these students have already made their debuts with professional choirs and orchestras, such as soprano Lindsay McIntyre, who has been featured as a soloist by the Elora Singers, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and the Grand Philharmonic Chamber Singers, or bass Matthew Li, who has performed with the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, the Elora Singers, the Toronto Consort, and the Theatre of Early Music.

Learn more about these young soloists


“What an exciting opportunity for both the Singers and our audience!” remarked Birrell. “Many of these young singers will soon be singing on the world’s biggest classical music and opera stages. But we have the rare opportunity now both to enjoy the diversity of their voices and talents and to support these up-and-coming Canadian artists by giving them the performance opportunities they need to jump-start their careers.”

The Peterborough Singers’ December performance of the Messiah is a beloved annual tradition, a concert that many Peterborough music lovers attend year after year. Those who attend a performance for the first time are often stunned by the power of the 100+ voice choir singing Handel’s most-famous oratorio, backed up by the mighty Casavant organ.

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The Messiah is in the DNA of the Peterborough Singers,” explains Birrell, artistic director of the Singers. “It’s remarkable when you realize that some of our members have been performing The Messiah for Peterborough audiences every year, sometimes twice a year, since our founding over two decades ago! For the Singers, it just isn’t Christmas without The Messiah.

As always, the Singers will be anchored by Juno-winning organist Ian Sadler. Other supporting artists for this year’s Messiah include Paul Otway and Doug Sutherland on trumpet and Stan Ewing on the timpani.

When: Monday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Emmanuel United Church
Ticket prices: $40 adults / $10 students
Tickets will be available at the following outlets: Pammett’s Flower Shop, Christensen Fine Art, Grainger’s Cleaners, Ashburnham Foot & Ankle Centre, Happenstance Books & Yarns (Lakefield), Stewart Morrison Insurance (Lindsay) or through our website

Peg McCracken
Business Manager

**John Jalsevac is a PhD student in philosophy at the Center for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. He lives in Millbrook, Ontario, with his wife and children.