Nov 15, 2017

Hallelujah! Tafelmusik Rings in the Festive Season with Messiah and Sing-Along Messiah

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“Tafelmusik's Messiah (is) a masterpiece of urgency and fire,
tension and drama.”  —The Globe and Mail

Toronto, November 15, 2017 … Toronto’s Hallelujah event returns!  Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choirperform Handel’s beloved baroque masterpiece, Messiah, on December 13, 14, 15, and 16 at 7:30 pm in the stunning setting of Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning. A cherished Toronto holiday tradition since 1981, Tafelmusik’s Messiah is conducted by
Ivars Taurins, who “pulls out of the score… every moment of drama and beauty hidden within” (The Globe and Mail). Tafelmusik’s resoundingly popular Sing-Along Messiahtakes place onSunday, December 17, 2017, at 2 PM at Massey Hall. Fourrenowned singers who have performed Messiah with Tafelmusik in the past are this season’s cast of soloists: Joanne Lunn, soprano; James Laing, countertenor; Rufus Müller, tenor; and Brett Polegato, baritone.

What Makes Tafelmusik’s Messiah Different?

Intimate scale, specialized musicians and singers, emotional depth
Tafelmusik’s Messiah is a profoundly moving experience in the style and spirit of Handel's own productions. Performed by the orchestra on period instruments and sung by a choir of 23 professional singers specializing in 17th- and 18th-century music, Tafelmusik’s Messiah “radiates brilliance and energy, along with an emotional depth that fully enhances the work's expression” (AllMusic).

Ivars Taurins, Canada’s “Prince of Messiah” (Toronto Star)
No other Canadian conductor has led as many consecutive performances of Messiah as
Ivars Taurins, who has conducted Handel’s masterpiece annually for 36 years with Tafelmusik and other orchestras and choirs across the country.

As Canada’s go-to expert on all things Messiah, Taurins was invited to explore Handel’s oratorio with writer and broadcaster Robert Harrisin Messiah Revealeda fascinating hour-long documentary for CBC Radio’s Ideas.

Why does Handel’s 18th-century oratorio still resonate so powerfully in the 21stcentury?

Written in England by a German baroque composer in just 24 days, Handel’s Messiah engages people of different backgrounds, faiths, and cultures. “A quick YouTube search will turn up a wide range of renditions of the Hallelujah chorus, from an Inuit community in Alaska to a congregation in Kuwait,” says Taurins.

“Handel’s Messiah offers solace, an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. The universality of this work, beyond its moving and uplifting music, lies in its message of ‘peace on earth, good will towards men,’ and in its themes of enlightenment and understanding, hope and faith, humanity and good will, sacrifice and charity — these are important values that we esteem and strive for, even in our secular world,” he says.

What's so special about Tafelmusik’s Sing-Along version of Messiah?

The 31st-annual Sing-Along Messiah at Massey Hall on Sunday December 17 is a unique and beloved audience-participation phenomenon led by George Frideric Handel himself — aka Ivars Taurins — in character and meticulously dressed in full baroque costume and powdered wig. Every year, 2,700 audience members fill Massey Hall, and with scores in hand, raise their voices together with those of the choir and soloists. Many families and groups of friends have made Tafelmusik’s Sing-Along Messiah a Yuletide ritual, and leave the concert hall feeling joyful and uplifted.

How far has Tafelmusik’s Messiah travelled?

To the moon and back! Well, almost. An avowed music lover and talented singer, Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette sang Messiah as member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir from 1988 to 1990, which she describes as “one of my richest experiences as a musician” (L’Actualité). As the first Canadian astronaut to board the International Space Station, she spent more than 600 hours aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1999 and Endeavour in 2009. Her Excellency famously brought Tafelmusik’s recording of Handel’s Messiah to outer space. 

Closer to home, Tafelmusik’s Messiah has been heard around the world, thanks to a live recording of the complete Messiah made in Koerner Hall. The “finely played and sensitively directed performance … one of the best-played recordings of Messiah” (Gramophone) was released on the Tafelmusik Media label in 2012. A Best of Messiah album featuring highlights from Handel’s baroque masterpiece was released in 2014.

A live-performance film of Sing-Along Messiah was released commercially on the Tafelmusik Media label in 2012 and is broadcast regularly on the Bravo!, CTV, and WNED television networks.

Who are the vocal soloists this year?

Soprano Joanne Lunn, whose “beautiful tone … [and] unmistakeable sincerity adding an additional layer to the performance” (Barcza Blog); countertenor James Laing, who “sang with clean beauty and lots of soul” (Schmopera);tenor Rufus Müller, “who sang with a unique and beautifully subtle tone,” (Toronto Star); and baritone Brett Polegato, who “gave the most rousing performance of ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’ that I've ever heard” (Globe and Mail).

What do the critics say about Tafelmusik’s Messiah and Sing-Along Messiah?

“Christmas just would not be the same without being part of this beautiful and cathartic event.” — CBC News, Toronto

“It’s hard to believe that Handel would have imagined his grand work performed any other way.” — Toronto Concert Reviews

“This is a winner.” — Operaramblings

“Tafelmusik, Handel, and the whole audience joined forces to remind me of the real joy that comes out of the music and the message.” — Schmopera

“One of the best Messiahs I have ever heard.” —The Globe and Mail

“Maestro Taurins made magic through his passion, emotions, and movements, setting him apart from any other conductor I have ever witnessed.” — BachTrack.

“An experience, from beginning to end, of narrative and emotion, tension and release, which tells a human story as much as a Christian story – Messiah's true staying power.” —The Globe and Mail

“The Sing-Along has its own culture, its own following and — judging by the diverse multigenerational audience — a very bright future.”  — Definitely the Opera

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS FROM TAFELMUSIK’S ONLINE SHOP: Great gift ideas for the baroque music lover include the return of the popular “Too Hot to Handel” oven mitt and a NEW Messiah holiday ornament. Gift certificates and special holiday packages are also available at


Led by Music Director Elisa Citterio, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir is one of the world’s leading period ensembles and Canada’s most-toured orchestra. Tafelmusik engages Toronto audiences with an annual season of more than 80 concerts in diverse venues across the city, as well as national and international audiences through an extensive schedule of tours and critically acclaimed recordings. The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, under the direction of Ivars Taurins, was formed in 1981 to complement the Orchestra. Tafelmusik also seeks to transport audiences to the baroque and classical periods through adventurous cross-cultural collaborations, on stage with Toronto's Opera Atelier, and underground at its new Haus Musik series. The orchestra’s musicians share their knowledge and experience through artist training initiatives such as the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer and Winter Institutes. Tafelmusik's catalogue of award-winning recordings on the SONY, CBC Records, Analekta, and Tafelmusik Media labels have garnered nine JUNO Awards and numerous other recording prizes. Jeanne Lamon continues her association with Tafelmusik as Music Director Emerita.


Tafelmusik wishes to thank the following for their generous support: BMO Financial Group, TD Bank Group, RBC Foundation, Hal Jackman Foundation, KPMG, Great West Life, London Life, Canada Life, McLean Foundation, Blakes LLP, iA Securities, Stikeman Elliott LLP, Margaret and John Catto, Margaret and Jim Fleck, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Classical 96.3 FM, and NOW Magazine. Tafelmusik is a proud partner of the Bloor St. Culture Corridor.

Listing information:

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir presents

Handel Messiah
Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, 273 Bloor Street W.
Wed Dec 13, Thu Dec 14, Fri Dec 15, Sat Dec 16 at 7:30 PM
Regular: From $39 | 65+: From $39 | Ages 35 & Under: From $30
Weston Family Box Office: (416) 408-0208
Sing-Along Messiah
Massey Hall, 78 Victoria Street
Sun Dec 17 at 2 PM
Regular: From $49 | 65+: From $45 | Ages 35 & Under: From $30
Massey Hall Box Office: (416) 872-4255

Social Media: Join the conversation on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

Photos: High‐resolution photos of Tafelmusik and Ivars Taurins are available for download in the Media Room at

Media contact:
Luisa Trisi, Big Picture Communications, 416 456-0499 |  | 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M5S 1X7

High‐resolution photos of Tafelmusik are available for download here