Handel to appear at Chorus concert

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The music of one of history’s great, departed composers is set to liven Bow Valley stages this weekend – and the maestro creator himself will be on hand to interpret his work for audiences.

The Bow Valley Chorus’ winter concerts Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 16-17) will have a twist on an old classic as the music group performs ‘Handel and his Messiah’, an interpretation based on George Frideric Handel’s Messiah.

“It just came to me,” said Bow Valley Chorus music director John Goulart. “What if I used an actor, what if Handel popped out of nowhere and just appeared at our performance; what would he do and what would he say?”

Goulart’s idea turned into a research process to better understand what the 18th century, German-born composer experienced with his personal ideas of faith, and how faith related to how Handel wrote Messiah.

“(The upcoming concerts) is the view point of Handel and not us performing Handel’s Messiah, it’s us doing it and Handel’s there and Handel’s going to take us on a trip whiles he’s there, letting us in on what he’s experiencing while writing it,” said Goulart.

On Dec. 16, the first performance of Handel and his Messiah is at Rolston Recital Hall at the Banff Centre and on Dec. 17, the final concert takes place at Silvertip Resort in Canmore. Each show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $30 and $10 for ages 12 and under.

“Some believe (Handel) had manic depression or a bipoplar disorder, and so he had highs and lows and it’s clear historically that he was on a big high when he wrote the Messiah; he wrote it in 24 days,” said Goulart about the original, near three-hour long concert, which the Bow Valley Chorus will condense into a 70-80 minute performance.

“By the time the concert is finished, you’ll feel like you experienced the music, but almost with Handel composing it again because he’s sharing with you what happened. On top of that, you feel his power.”

Playing Handel in period attire is Canadian actor David LaReaney, who’s a veteran stage, television and film actor as well as a dialect coach.

“He was the perfect person to do this,” said Goulart.

LeReaney will be joined by the Bow Valley Chorus, as well as soloists, soprano Karen J. Minish; mezzo Sara Staples; tenor Matthew Bruce; bass Aaron Dimoff, with orchestral accompaniment.

“The first few times (Messiah) was performed, the size of the original choir was roughly the same size as ours,” said Goulart, adding the local choir is 40 members strong.

“What we’re going to be performing would have been very similar to the first time Handel’s Messiah was performed.”

For more information or tickets, go to www.bowvalleychorus.com.

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