The holiday season was feeling more familiar with Columbia’s Pro Cantare’s performance of the timeless “Handel: Messiah” on Sunday, December 4, 2022 . Residents of Columbia and the surrounding area could count on this wonderful chorus to ring in the season until the pandemic turned things upside down. Now Columbia Pro Cantare is back with voices ringing in this holiday tradition.
An informative pre-concert lecture was given by Prof. Ernest Liotti, a member of the Peabody Institute faculty. He gave us some interesting background before we heard the performance. For instance, it took Handel only 23 days to write “Messiah,” but it was not popular at the time. The audiences then felt the music was too theatrical for liturgy. It soon became a favorite, most notably in the 1780s when Mozart did a re-orchestration. This concert reflected the lighter version of Mozart.
Welcome back to ‘Handel: Messiah‘ and thank you to Columbia Pro Cantare for opening our holiday season with so much joy.
The popular soloists Amy Van Roekel, soprano; Mary Ann McCormick, mezzo; Charles Reid, tenor; and Lester Lynch, baritone also returned along with Henry Lowe on positif organ. I had to chance to review this concert in 2019, pre-pandemic and this was almost a carbon copy of that concert. The soloists were the same as well as most of the musicians. The chorus has some new faces, but they all wore masks which was not the case three years ago. Fortunately, the wonderful sounds of the chorus were not stifled by the masks.
Sitting as conductor was Frances Motyca Dawson who has led this wonderful group since its inception. The Maestro may need a little assistance to get to the conductor’s chair, but once there, she is still in charge and her passion still permeated the performance.
The four soloists were all remarkable and are all internationally recognized opera singers. Sunday’s performance highlighted their talents and left no one disappointed.
As always, the highlight of the “Messiah” is the “Hallelujah Chorus” which is sung by the choir. It was perhaps more exciting to hear this year as it was a signal that we are really getting back to normal in the performing arts world. It is always my favorite section as it features the chorus and all four voices of the soloists.
Welcome back to “Handel: Messiah” and thank you to Columbia Pro Cantare for opening our holiday season with so much joy.
Running Time: Two hours and 45 minutes with one intermission.
“Handel: Messiah” was performed on December 4, 2022 at The Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake, 5460 Trumpeter Rd., Columbia, MD 21044. If you could not make “Handel: Messiah,” it should be back next year. This season, Columbia Pro Cantare will also be performing “A Christmas Noel” with the CPC Chamber Singers on Sunday, December 18, 2022 at the Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia. Check out their website for information on all their concerts and tickets. At this time CPC states musicians and audiences must wear a mask.