LSM Newswire

Monday, December 7, 2009

Symphony Nova Scotia presents re-creation of Handel’s 1742 “Dublin” Messiah

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December 7, 2009


Halifax, NS – In honour of the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death, Symphony Nova Scotia presents a very special version of his masterpiece Messiah on Friday, December 18 and Saturday, December 19 at 7:30 pm at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax.

Instead of the “standard” version of Handel’s Messiah that orchestras usually perform this time of year, Symphony Nova Scotia and the 80-member Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus will perform the beloved oratorio in its unaltered original version, which premiered in Dublin, Ireland in 1742 to rave reviews.

“Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring crouded Audience,” said a Dublin newspaper the following day.

This “Dublin” Messiah will be led by Toronto-based Irish conductor Kevin Mallon, who is also a Baroque music specialist. Toronto’s Wholenote Magazine has praised him as “Canada’s crown prince of period performance.”

“All too often, we get a ‘conglomerate’ version of Messiah,” says Mallon. “People have a way of taking a piece from this version and a piece from that. It’s exciting to be doing one particular version from one date and place. It’s the first time that a re-creation like this has been done in Canada.”

Some of the biggest differences between this version of Messiah and the versions we usually hear include:

· The standard chorus “Their sound is gone out” was not part of the first performance, as it wasn’t written until 1745.

· “The bass accompagnato ‘Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts,’ started life as a little arioso,” says Mallon. “If I can decipher Handel’s scribbling we may do a little of it!”

· The famous air “But who may abide the day of His coming,” usually performed by an alto, was originally written as a recitative for bass.

· The soprano air “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion” was originally in a lilting 12/8 rhythm.

· The aria “How beautiful are the feet,” usually sung by a soprano, was originally written as a duet for two altos plus the chorus.

· Several other airs, including “If God be for us” and “He shall feed His flock,” were originally written for solo alto to complement Susannah Cibber, the famous contralto performing at the premiere. Cibber was noted as much for her tumultuous personal life as for her singing, and legend has it that upon hearing her exquisite performance, the chancellor of St Patrick's Cathedral loudly proclaimed "Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!"

Mallon and the orchestra will be joined by soprano Laura Albino, mezzo-soprano Marion Newman, tenor Lawrence Wiliford, and bass-baritone Sean Watson, along with the Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus, led by chorus master Jeff Joudrey.

Expecting a full house at the 1742 premiere, the Dublin Journal requested that ladies who would “honour the performance with their presence be pleased to come without hoops” [hooped skirts] and that men “kindly leave their swords at home.”

Happily honouring this tradition and also anticipating sell-out performances, the Symphony kindly requests that this year’s audiences do the same.

Get your tickets now! Prices range from $29-49 (HST included), or you can pick up a subscription package and save up to 30%. For tickets and more information, call 494.3820 or visit our website at

About Kevin Mallon

Irish musician Kevin Mallon, now resident in Canada, is quickly developing a worldwide reputation. He learned his craft as a violinist with such orchestras as the Hallé and the BBC Philharmonic, and later as concertmaster with Le Concert Spirituel and Les Arts Florissants in Paris. After moving to Canada, he accepted positions with the University of Toronto, the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and the Toronto Chamber Orchestra, and founded the acclaimed Toronto-based Aradia Ensemble. A world-renowned baroque conductor, Mallon has appeared in concert halls around the world, including Europe, Russia, Japan, and New Zealand. He has made over 40 recordings for Naxos in baroque and classical repertoire.

About Laura Albino, soprano

Laura Albino has quickly emerged as one of Canada's finest young lyric sopranos, and has recently been named a winner of the Ottawa Choral Society's New Discoveries Auditions. Laura's operatic roles include Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni with the Britten-Pears Young Artist Program in Aldeburgh, England, Mary Warren in Ward's The Crucible with the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, and the role of Bridey in The Midnight Court at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Laura is a member of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio and a favorite guest artist with Kevin Mallon's Aradia baroque ensemble.

About Marion Newman, mezzo-soprano

First Nations mezzo-soprano Marion Newman "has a distinctive, dusky voice that suggests drama with every note" (Toronto Star) and has been noted as "a show stealer" (BBC Music Magazine). In her debut with Cork’s Opera 2005 in the title role of Carmen, she was widely praised for her “superbly sinuous sexuality” and as “a very exciting new talent” by the Irish Examiner. Marion frequently performs with Kevin Mallon’s Aradia Ensemble.

About Lawrence Wiliford, tenor

Described as having a “lovely sound,” a “lithe legato,” and “beautifully directional phrasing,” American-born tenor Lawrence Wiliford is quickly gaining international recognition on both the concert and operatic stage. Making his Canadian Opera Company leading role debut in Così fan tutte on five hours’ notice, he received critical acclaim as “a talented and lyric tenor,” “serving up an impressive Ferrando.” On the concert stage he has been noted as “animated, exciting, and yet at the same time technically unimpeachable.”

About Sean Watson, bass-baritone

With a career that encompasses both opera and oratorio, bass-baritone Sean Watson has sung throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Recent performances included The Bonze in Madama Butterfly with Opera Hamilton, the title role in The Mikado with Toronto Operetta Theatre, and John Estacio's The Houses Stand Not Far Apart with Chorus Niagara and the Orpheus Choir.

About Jeff Joudrey, chorus master

Symphony Nova Scotia chorus master Jeff Joudrey is highly regarded for his vision, musical leadership, and standards of excellence in choral music. Founder of the First Baptist Girls' Choir (1983) and Halifax Camerata Singers (1986), his leadership has provided challenging and rewarding choral opportunities for many Nova Scotia singers. In addition to being Director of Music at First Baptist Church, Jeff is in high demand as a guest conductor, choral clinician, teacher and adjudicator.

About the Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus

The Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus was founded in 2001 under the leadership of conductor Jeff Joudrey to provide a highly trained symphonic chorus for performances with Symphony Nova Scotia. Chorus membership includes the Halifax Camerata Singers as the core choir and auditioned singers from around the province.

About Symphony Nova Scotia

Symphony Nova Scotia is Nova Scotia’s orchestra. Each year more than 50,000 audience members (including 15,000 young music lovers) join us in communities across Nova Scotia for performances of the music they love – from baroque and classical to pop and rock and folk. Under the inspirational leadership of Music Director Bernhard Gueller, Symphony Nova Scotia is recognized as one of the finest orchestras in the country. Visit to learn more, listen online, or subscribe today!

Symphony Nova Scotia is grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts, Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture, and Heritage, and the Halifax Regional Municipality for their continued support.



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