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Handel's Messiah: SSO, local singers tackle 'beautiful' piece

Famous English-language oratorio composed in less than a month in 1741

****Editor's note: As of Nov. 25, the concert is officially sold out.

In less than a month in 1741, Baroque-era composer George Frideric Handel wrote what would become one of his best-known pieces — Messiah.

The English-language oratorio, performed by a choir accompanied by a symphony, is an extended reflection on the life of Jesus Christ. Most people would be familiar with the famous Hallelujah chorus.

Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by more than 100 local vocalists, will be tacking the piece this Saturday. Handel's Messiah is traditionally performed in the lead-up to Christmas.

The chorus will be performed by the Bel Canto Choir, Laurentian University Choir and the Sudbury Chamber Singers.

The soloists are all either Sudburians or Sudbury natives with classical singing chops — Peter McGillivray, Joey Niceforo, Carla Huhtanen and Pamela Teed.

Niceforo, who's classically trained as an opera singer, said he's “thrilled” to be performing in Handel's Messiah.

“There's something about the music that makes you feel good inside,” he said. “You hear these glorious choruses, and the solos are amazing.” 

He said he performed it once before, seven years ago in British Columbia, where he was living at the time. But Niceforo said this is his first time collaborating with Sudbury Symphony Orchestra.

Given he's been focusing on his solo pop crossover career for the last few years, Niceforo said he's a bit nervous about the performance. He said he's been doing a lot of rehearsing on his own.

“Especially in the first aria, 'Every Valley,' there's all these little notes — runs,” he said. “I want to make sure that I get them all. There's about 1,000 of them.”

Mélanie Léonard, Sudbury Symphony Orchestra's brand-new music director, said this will be the first time she's conducted Handel's Messiah. 

She said she's looking forward to working with the symphony, chorus and soloists Friday night, when they all come together for a rehearsal.

Handel's Messiah is “beautiful” master work, and helps people get into the Christmas spirit, Léonard said. 

“I think this is a great occasion to come and see it live,” she said. “There's nothing like seeing or hearing music live. It's going to be an amazing evening in music.”

Tickets have been selling like hotcakes, so if you'd like to attend, make sure you buy them soon.

“We are anticipating a sellout at this time,” said Sudbury Symphony executive director Jennifer McGillivray. “For us, that's past anything we have done since we moved into Glad Tidings almost 10 years ago.”

The concert takes place at Glad Tidings Church at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26. Advance tickets cost $44 for adults, $39 for seniors and $14 for those aged 35 and under.

Visit for tickets.


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Heidi Ulrichsen

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