Living in a large city affords me the opportunity to experience a wide variety of the arts and, when considering a seasonal favourite such as Handel’s Messiah, many choices of presenters. According to Whole Note magazine 13 different presenters, in the Greater Toronto Area alone, are offering a total of 23 performances of the work.
Last evening a friend and I were at Metropolitan United Church, on Queen St. E. at Church, to experience The Elmer Eisler Singers’ one-night-only presentation with The Amadeus Choir and an 18-piece orchestra that included Metropolitan’s magnificent organ. The combined choir was approximately 100 strong, their performance outstanding, and enough cannot be said about the first-rate guest soloists – Meredith Hall (soprano), Anita Krause (mezzo-soprano), Mark DuBois (tenor) and Alexander Dobson (bass). I was particularly drawn to Dobson’s rich voice by a few extended trills I had not heard before and a sense of timing, dramatic pauses even, that added so much to the sung story-telling.
Metropolitan United’s historic building was acoustically warm and inspiring for the performance in its solid old Methodist architecture, a lovely setting in which to see and hear Handel’s enduring work.
I thought of Craig often last evening, sitting on his coat as I was for extra padding on the hard pew, knowing how much he also would have enjoyed this offering of music – a glimpse of the peace and wonder with which we try to reconnect, however fleeting, at Christmas.