Nov 13, 2014

Toronto’s Hallelujah Event! Tafelmusik’s Messiah and Sing-Along Messiah

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“ … this is as fine a period-instrument performance of Messiah as you are likely to experience anywhere in the world right now … this living, breathing piece of 1742 can make every Torontonian proud.” — Musical Toronto

Handel Messiah and Sing-Along Messiah
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir
Directed by Ivars Taurins
Lydia Teuscher, soprano | James Laing, countertenor
Colin Balzer, tenor | Brett Polegato, baritone
Toronto, Canada, November 10, 2014 … Toronto’s Hallelujah event returns this December as the world-renowned Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir rings in the season with intimate and uplifting performances of Handel’s baroque masterpiece, Messiah at Koerner Hall. Messiah features a stellar cast of international vocal soloists: German soprano Lydia Teuscher, and English countertenor James Laing, along with Canadians, tenor Colin Balzer and baritone Brett Polegato. Performances are directed by Ivars Taurins and take place from December 17 to 20 at 7:30 PM. Sing-Along Messiah will be performed at Toronto’s Massey Hall at 2 PM on Sunday, December 21.
No other Canadian conductor has led as many consecutive performances of Messiah as Ivars Taurins, who has conducted performances of Handel’s masterpiece annually with Tafelmusik and other orchestras and choirs across Canada since 1981. Mr. Taurins will also give a FREE lecture on the topic of Messiah on Thursday, November 13, at 3 PM at the Hinton Learning Theatre, Toronto Reference Library, third floor. 
Tafelmusik’s Messiah is a profoundly moving experience in the style and spirit of Handel's own productions. Performed on period instruments by the orchestra and sung by a choir of 23 singers specializing in 17th- and 18th-century music, Tafelmusik’s Messiah has become a cherished tradition for Toronto audiences since 1981. 
Since 2012 Tafelmusik’s Messiah has been heard around the world, thanks to a live recording of the complete Messiah made in Koerner Hall, released on the Tafelmusik Media label and described as “a finely played and sensitively directed performance … one of the best-played recordings of Messiah” by the UK’s Gramophone magazine. Individual tracks from this recording are also available to stream live from Tafelmusik’s Watch & Listen site, and a Best of Messiah album featuring highlights from Handel’s baroque masterpiece will be released on November 17. This and other Tafelmusik recordings are available from Tafelmusik’s new online shop
This season’s cast of Messiah soloists include two singers who are making their Tafelmusik debuts: soprano Lydia Teuscher, whose performance of Messiah at London’s Barbican Hall was praised for its “light, lyric approach which brought freshness to her arias.” (Lark Reviews).  Countertenor James Laing is known for his “extraordinarily limpid, clear countertenor, needle-sharp in diction and intonation” (Opera Now). The tenor and baritone soloists are well-known to Tafelmusik audiences: tenor Colin Balzer, praised for his “unerring style and great beauty of tone” (Opera Canada), and baritone Brett Polegato, renowned for his “full, rich, depth of tone from top to bottom” (The Examiner).   
On Sunday December 21, Tafelmusik hosts its 28th annual Sing-Along Messiah at Massey Hall. Tafelmusik’s Sing-Along Messiah is a unique Toronto audience-participation phenomenon led by George Frideric Handel himself (aka Ivars Taurins — in character and dressed in full baroque costume). Each year, 2,700 audience members fill Massey Hall to the rafters, and with scores in hand, raise their voices together with those of the choir and soloists. Seating is General Admission, by voice part. A live-performance film of Sing-Along Messiah made in Koerner Hall was released commercially on the Tafelmusik Media label in 2012 and has been broadcast on the Bravo!, CTV and WNED television networks. Taurins received a 2011 Gemini Award nomination for his portrayal of Handel in Sing-Along Messiah
Founding director of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, Ivars Taurins was also violist of the Tafelmusik Orchestra for its first 23 years. Principal Baroque Conductor of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra from 2001 to 2011, Taurins also appears as guest director with orchestras and choirs across Canada.  In September 2011, he was guest choir director for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, preparing a combined chorus of Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and members of the OSM Chorus for performances and a recording (Analekta) of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, directed by Kent Nagano at the gala opening of the new Maison symphonique in Montreal. Taurins was director of the 2012 National Youth Choir, the 2000 and 2009 Ontario Youth Choirs, the 2003 Nova Scotia Youth Choir, and the 2004 Alberta University & College Choir. Taurins teaches orchestral conducting and directs the Collegium Musicum at the University of Toronto. He is director of the vocal/choral programme at the annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. 
The 2-CD recording of Messiah, the DVD of Sing-Along Messiah and the Best of Messiah CD on the Tafelmusik Media label are on sale to the public and will be available at the performances. Excerpts of both are also available on Tafelmusik’s digital concert hall at or through the new online shop