Phoenix Choir staged a full performance of Handel’s Messiah on Sunday 9 April (Palm Sunday) in the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub in Springwood. In the tradition of Messiah we assembled a large choir and performed with chamber orchestra and professional soloists. Messiah Program click here
At the core of this orchestra was the Kedumba quartet of Rebecca Daniel, Elizabeth Cooney, Sam Harding and Trish McMeekin. Between them these four upper-mountains musicians have a wealth of professional performance experience in full orchestras, chamber groups and musical productions, both across Australia and in Europe. Closer to home they play with Orpheus Strings, and have previously played with Phoenix Choir and in Rowen Fox’s recent opera Chang’E and the Moon.
Building out the rest of the orchestra was a strong mix of youth and experience. Celebrated local accompanist Janette Norcotte anchored the performance from the harpsichord. She was joined by renowned Sydney organist Heather Moen-Boyd who played an Allen organ kindly loaned for this event. Our youngest performer, Abraham Darley, was one of the second violins. Oboes, trumpets and timpani completed a well-rounded Baroque orchestra similar to the forces which Handel would have used nearly 300 years ago.
Messiah has developed from Handel’s composition with many much loved traditions. Musical director, Rowen Fox, had researched the modern understanding of the original work. He aimed to capture the spirit of the original work featuring a countertenor from Sydney conservatorium and some original solo and duet arias while maintaining all the choruses and arias, which we know and love.
Whilst it may be less usual today to perform the work in the lead-up to Easter, Handel originally composed Messiah for Passiontide. The core of the work in Part 2 deals with the events of Lent, Easter and Pentecost and some of the most poignant moments surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection contrast exquisitely with the joyful Christmas music and triumphant Hallelujah performed in our concert today. A Palm Sunday performance restored the work to its original place in the calendar.