Messiah rewards packed church

Last updated 11:32 05/12/2011

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REVIEW: The Messiah.
Palmerston North Choral Society.
Conductor Alison Stewart. St Peter's Church, Saturday.
Reviewed by STEPHEN FISHER.

The world's most popular oratorio, The Messiah by GF Handel, made a welcome appearance on our concert calendar on Saturday as the Choral Society presented the seasonal work to a "full house" at St Peter's Church.

The turnout recognises the fact that these well-known choruses and beautiful arias still attract an enthusiastic, loyal following.

The Messiah, rather than tell a story as is common for an oratorio, is an extended reflection on Jesus Christ as the Messiah, with Belinda Maclean (soprano), Debbie Donkin (alto), Nigel Tongs (tenor) and Joe Christensen (bass), providing the observations on the life of Jesus Christ.

Nigel Tong's Comfort Ye, My People, provided a striking opening to the evening, ably matched by Joe Christensen in the bass role.

Debbie Donkin's lighter voice had pleasing tone while Belinda Maclean's I Know That My Redeemer Liveth revealed the beauty of this aria.

The choir showed strength and conviction in the Hallelujah Chorus and Worthy Is The Lamb, and I was impressed by the haunting beauty of Since By Man Came Death, although some of the other choruses would have benefited from more rehearsal.

Douglas Mews provided excellent organ accompaniment throughout, finding much colour on the fine instrument in St Peter's and, although the organ dominated at times, it always provided the necessary expression and impetus that the work requires.

A live performance of the The Messiah is always one to cherish, and this performance was no exception. Conductor Alison Stewart should feel suitably rewarded that this performance should prove such a popular attraction for local audiences.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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