Ted Rhodes heartily recommends including the ‘Messiah’ in your Christmas plans. (Citizen file)

VIDEO: ‘The Messiah’ , with choir and symphony orchestra, comes to Duncan on Dec. 18

We know it by heart but we still love it: the Cowichan Symphony Society is presenting ‘Messiah’

Maybe it’s watching A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim on TV, or seeing a production of The Nutcracker, or maybe it’s listening to Alan Maitland read the story of The Shepherd: a lot of us have an iconic show we must see or hear during the holidays.

For many music lovers, it’s just not Christmas without Handel’s Messiah.

And the Cowichan Symphony Society is bringing the Victoria Symphony’s production of this oratorio to end all oratorios to the Cowichan Theatre on Monday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

This is not “Messiah light” either. It’s all there, including such beloved gems as ‘Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted’, ‘And the Glory of the Lord’, ‘The People that Walked in Darkness’, the ‘Pastoral Symphony’, ‘He Trusted in God’, ‘How Beautiful Are the Feet’, ‘I Know That My Redeemer Liveth’, ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’, and, of course, ‘Hallelujah’.

Brian Wismath, music director of Vox Humana Chamber Choir, Linden Singers of Victoria, Victoria Choral Society and Victoria Conservatory of Music Chorale, is marshalling the choir for this event.

Lyric coloratura Eve-Lyn de la Haye is the soprano, Justin Odwak, a lieder specialist is the tenor, Kirsten Schellenberg, who could be described as a young Maureen Forester, is the alto, and Michael Nyby is the baritone soloist in the production.

Symphony Society publicist Ted Rhodes also has something personal to share about Messiah.

“I was born in an industrial, wool-weaving town in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, where both my parents were weaving in the mill at age 12. Culturally, this area was also very musical and close by could be heard the very famous Huddersfield Choral Society and national prizewinning bands such as the Black Dyke Mills Band.

“In our family, two Methodist Chapel services were mandatory every Sunday. As children we were drafted into the church choir at age eight and weekly piano lessons with the organist were arranged for us. These were definitely formative years and they set me on a love of music path which I have always followed.

“One of my fondest childhood memories is ‘Messiah Sunday’ that took place every year on the first Sunday in December. Near the beginning of November, a message went out from our Bethesda chapel to other chapels, churches, choirs and surrounding villages, inviting singers to come for the annual event. Sure enough, over 100 people would show up to four rehearsals. Most of the folks knew it by heart.

“At 2 p.m. on that first December Sunday, with a church full of people, the organist began the proceedings by playing the magnificent ‘Overture’, followed by the tenor solo: ‘Comfort Ye’. Then, the full choir continued with ‘And the Glory of the Lord’. On we went until, after a boisterous rendering of ‘His Yoke Is Easy’, we came to the intermission. Everyone in the church then hurried to tables in the Sunday school hall to partake of their first Christmas dinner. This in itself was huge and it usually finished with impromptu carol singing and some quite funny poetry readings given in the broad Yorkshire dialect. Following dinner at 6 p.m., we were back in chapel where the remainder of Messiah was sung. By this time the audience had grown and become standing room only. The oratorio ended with gusto singing of the magnificent, roof- raising ‘Amen Chorus’ with its climaxing high A’s sung by the sopranos and echoed by the tenors who by now were finding it a bit of a struggle. Nevertheless, we gave it all we had! Returning home after the performance to a warm fireplace, my family knew for sure that Christmas had arrived!

“Here in Duncan on another continent, the Cowichan Symphony Society brings Handel’s Messiah. The society doesn’t present this every year because choirs in the valley also like to give their versions. For example, the Cowichan Consort will perform it in 2018. It seems to me that it doesn’t matter if we hear a full professional performance or a well-done sing-along performance or a few solos and renderings of the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus. What matters is that this timeless music not only provides us with very fond memories of family and friends, but moves us to thoughts of peace, love and truth for all the people of the world.

“Yes, Christmas is here! Let Handel’s music lift your hearts. Be joyful!”

In addition to the performance, everyone is welcome to the prelude wine and cheese event which starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Boardroom of the theatre. The music teacher guest speakers will be Trish Rankin and Meredythe Broadway.

Book your tickets to this event online at cowichanpac.ca or call the Cowichan Ticket Centre at 250-748-7529.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sierra Robinson, 17, is one of 15 youths suing the Canadian government for failing to take action on climate change. (Facebook)
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Duncan B&E suspect caught in the act by RCMP

37-year-old Parksville man facing several charges

The road into Crofton will be a lot nicer when the roller coaster bumps are taken out of Crofton Road. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Crofton Road improvements to start taking shape Nov. 2

It’ll be a long haul until next summer to get it done and motorists should expect delays

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has expressed concerns about the excessive freighters parked in the Salish Sea for quite some time. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address problem freighter anchorages

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Most Read