Okanagan Symphony Orchestra plays to a sellout crowd in Penticton at the Cleland Community Theatre.

CONCERT REVIEW: Okanagan Symphony Orchestra play to sell-out crowd in Penticton

Okanagan Symphony Orchestra crowded the stage at Penticton's Cleland Theatre to deliver a beautiful rendition of Handel's Messiah.

All tickets were sold out for the Messiah at Cleland Theatre last Thursday evening in Penticton.

The hall was crowded and so was the stage: the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra with all their regular instruments plus a harpsichord and a portable organ, the Okanagan Symphony Chorus with over 50 singers and the four outstanding soloists were ready to perform.

Handel’s magnificent oratorio Messiah was premiered in England in 1742. Since then it became immensely popular all over the world. Now is mostly performed around Christmas to celebrate the spiritual aspect of the holiday season. The libretto by Charles Jennens draws from sources of the Old and the New Testament.

The oratorio unfolded similar to an opera; the themes were Advent and Nativity, the Passion of Christ and Resurrection, and Christ’s teachings. After a stately then lively instrumental introduction Alberta tenor Jason Ragan sang a recitative Comfort Ye My People. The slow tempo and the long held notes allowed for dynamic modelling of the melodic lines. Arpeggiated chords on the harpsichord and a harmonic background from the orchestra brought Regan’s expressive voice and the poetic words into the foreground.

Conductor Rosemary Thomson, who is an excellent vocal coach, worked wonders with the chorus. The swiftly meandering phrases, the treacherous canon style entries and the extreme high and low registers were negotiated with ease in the jubilant Hallelujah chorus.

Gordon Bintner’s rich bass-baritone voice shone in the aria Why Do The Nations So Furiously Rage Together.  In spite of the galloping tempo the pitch and the rhythm always stayed accurate and the words were clear. His tall and slim appearance too was an asset to the noble ambience.

Mezzo soprano Lynne McMurtry expressed the drama and sorrow of Christ’s passion poignantly. Her lyrical interpretation of the text brought tears to the eyes in He Was Despised.

Joy and resurrection followed. Stephanie Nakagawa’s crystal clear soprano reassured in the aria I Know That My Redeemer Liveth. It was delightful to listen to her effortless coloraturas. Her beautiful smile and her exquisite gown brightened up the stage.

Finally, a multi-faceted Amen arose from the men’s voices, then the women’s, the strings, till everyone joined together with trumpet fanfares and timpani thunder. It was a grand finale and a wonderful beginning for this year’s Christmas holiday.

Roswitha Masson is a symphony concert reviewer living in Penticton.

Just Posted

Penticton patient care tower fundraising going strong

About $14.3 million in donations for the Penticton hospital has come in

Exercising her right to fight

Thinking inside the box helped push Geneva Kostashen through cancer treatment

Council approves all tax exemption requests

List includes charities, service groups and the Penticton Golf and Country Club

Day 2 of RCMP search at Silver Creek residence

Police use backhoe in ongoing search effort at residential/agricultural Salmon River Road property

TGIF: South Okanagan concerts and events

Live theatre, concerts, events, art exhibits and more from around the South Okanagan

Mixing up local talent and cocktails

The annual Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery Mixoff takes place in Kelowna in November

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Bantam Vees tournament good prep for start of the season

Penticton hockey team heads into regular season with just one loss in nine exhibition games

Auntie Says: Don’t bring your dope to my house

Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you, but if you try and smoke at my house, you’ll be asked to leave

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

Most Read