Messiah to mark music milestone

By Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell of Creative Tauranga


November 17 will be the highlight of an exciting year for the Tauranga Civic Choir.

It has chosen Handel's Messiah to celebrate 50 years of music-making in the Bay of Plenty.

Jeremy Whimster will conduct choir, orchestra and internationally-known soloists at the Holy Trinity Church. It is also a personal milestone for Whimster as he celebrates 20 years as musical director - 20 years of variety and challenge in the presentation of choral music to concert-goers and choral music enthusiasts in Tauranga.

This performance of Messiah will be the complete work - most modern-era choirs leave out one, two or several choruses. The four soloists are of the highest calibre, all having a connection with Tauranga in some way. Madeleine Pierard, fresh from a successful season at Covent Garden, will sing soprano and Helen Medlyn, known nationally and internationally as a "Jill of all trades", will sing alto. Chase Douglas, who attended Tauranga Boys' College and performed many musical theatre roles during his time there, will sing tenor and Tauranga resident Chalium Poppy, well known as the musical director of Scholars Pro Musical, will sing bass.

The Tauranga Civic Ensemble will be led by leading Auckland violinist Yid-Ee Goh and consists of 20 invited musicians accompanying the choir and soloists.

Fifty years is a great milestone for the Tauranga Civic Choir, which began as a small "ladies choir" in 1961 under the direction of Beatrice Webster. From those humble beginnings, Tauranga Civic Choir evolved with men joining the line-up in 1964, which enabled the choir to perform larger choral works including those by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Haydn and Bach. The choir was conducted by Merle Fausett for 12 years after Mrs Webster moved to Auckland and, in 1992, Whimster took up the reins as musical director.

Memorable performances over the past few years include The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins in 2009 to commemorate Armistice Day on November 14. This performance included video graphics depicting the heartbreak and consequences of war. Mention must also be made of the performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah presented in 2006 with a first-class quartet of soloists led by Rodney McCann, who brought the role of Elijah to life and took it to an excitingly dramatic level, captivating the audience.

From its humble beginnings, Tauranga Civic Choir has evolved into a leading group of amateur singers who are committed to lifting the standard of performance every year and the choir looks forward to the next 50 years with enthusiasm.

Don't miss Handel's Messiah, November 17, at Holy Trinity Church at 7.30pm. Tickets available at Baycourt or the door. Inquiries, phone 574 6366.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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