‘Tis the season and, for many in Howard County, the holidays begin with Pro Cantare’s concert of Handel’s “Messiah.” There is nothing more traditional than standing for the “Hallelujah Chorus.” An informative pre-concert lecture was given by Prof. Ernest Liotti, a member of the Peabody Institute faculty, whose insights are always thought provoking and informative.
Handel’s ‘Messiah‘ reminds us Christmas is not just tinsel, Santa, and presents. Columbia Pro Cantare brought out the beauty and religiosity of this masterpiece and the holiday.
Back again this year were soloists soprano Amy Van Roekel, mezzo Mary Ann McCormick, tenor Charles Reid, and baritone Lester Lynch. All internationally recognized opera singers, they continue to give flawless performances. Henry Lowe also performed on positif organ. The big change for Columbia Pro Cantare this year is a new director, Laura Lee Fischer, who made her debut in this performance. Fischer has previously backed up their last director and, on occasion, conducted the chorus. With Dawson’s retirement, the transition has been seamless.
One could hear some of the new maestro’s touch in the Chorus sections, notably in Part One “And the glory of the Lord;” in Part Two “He trusted in God;” and in Part III “Amen.” The chorus is fluid and the size and the singers are always changing, so perhaps that explained the subtle differences. Accolades go to the Festival Orchestra as well. Their solo pieces and the scoring behind the singers were superb. The volume was never overwhelming but the beauty of the music was still audible.
As always, the highlight of this piece is the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ which is sung by the choir and this rendition was no exception. The audience seemed a bit more animated with the excitement of the new conductor. “Handel’s Messiah” reminds us Christmas is not just tinsel, Santa and presents. Columbia Pro Cantare brought out the beauty and religiosity of this masterpiece and the holiday.
“Handel: Messiah” was performed on December 3, 2023 at the Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts (JRT), Wilde Lake High School Columbia, 5460 Trumpeter Rd, Columbia, MD 21044. Columbia Pro Cantare will also be performing “A Christmas Noel” with the CPC Chamber Singers on Sunday, December 10, 2023 at the Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia. For more information on upcoming events and and tickets, go online.