Perry: Okanagan Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Messiah energizing

Review of the OSO Special Series performance of Handel’s Messiah

Anita Perry is a Summerland music teacher who has written works for orchestra, concert bands, ballets and musicals. (File photo)

Anita Perry is a Summerland music teacher who has written works for orchestra, concert bands, ballets and musicals. (File photo)

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra recently presented George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, the first concert in its Specials series.

Under the baton of director Rosemary Thomson, the performance featured the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, the OSO Chorus along with special guest soprano Kallie Clayton, countertenor Shane Hanson, tenor Owen McCausland and bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus. A sold-out house attested to the fact that this OSO concert has become a seasonal tradition.

Thomson conducted an inspired performance of this substantial work, easily holding the 119 performers together. Tempi were well thought out and appropriate for the musical complexity. Lovely phrasing coupled with intelligent dynamics brought a finely-honed sparkle to the music, and the use of strings without vibrato gave an authentic baroque touch. Finally, the tonal balance between instrumentalists, chorus and soloists was handled with ease and confidence. The performance felt well-paced and polished with every musician absolutely committed to the result.

Read More: Okanagan Symphony presents innovative evening

The concert owed a great deal of its success to the talent and musical abilities of the vocal soloists. From tenor Owen McCausland’s first “Comfort ye my people,” the audience knew it was in good hands. McCausland sang his role with total involvement, producing fluid, golden tones and effortlessly tossing off 16th-note passages with jaw-dropping ease.

Bass Stephen Hegedus sang with a robust and energetic ringing tone. His “The people that walked in darkness” highlighted his tremendous range with shiver-inducing low notes, while “The trumpet shall sound” drove forward with relentless energy—clearly the high point of Hegedus’s performance. And speaking of the trumpet, kudos to Audrey Patterson for her exquisite piccolo trumpet playing throughout, especially on this air.

The programming of a countertenor instead of a contralto provided an interesting and engaging note of authenticity to this performance. Shane Hanson’s falsetto was beautifully rich and clean, and his understanding of the music resulted in a deeply communicative delivery of such movements as He Was Despised.

Soprano Kallie Clayton was confident and assured, easily plucking high notes from thin air. Her gorgeous tones, like rippling liquid sunshine, were absolutely precise. From her first “There were shepherds abiding in the field” to her warm “I know that my redeemer liveth,” Clayton’s performance was a real pleasure.

Read More: Okanagan Symphony celebrates 60 years

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra chorus sang with total commitment and surprising technical ability for an amateur ensemble. Thomson made sure that attention was paid to phrasing and dynamics. The ensemble of chorus and orchestra was amazingly tight throughout, especially considering that Thomson placed the three trumpets for Glory to God behind the audience. The resulting quadrophonic effect was spine-tingling and perfectly in time.

Of course, any discussion of the Messiah would not be complete without making special mention of the Hallelujah Chorus. The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and Chorus did not disappoint, delivering the ringing tones with energy and enthusiasm. The audience stood spontaneously for this movement and roared its approval at the conclusion.

If it were possible to transmute the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra’s heart-felt musical expression into electric joules from sonic jewels, we would have enough energy to light and warm the darkest corners of the world.

Anita Perry has written works for orchestra, concert band, ballets and musicals. She teaches piano in Summerland.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wills Hodgkinson, 10, and his mom Neeley Brimer get ready to battle round three of cancer. The community of Penticton has his back. (Submitted)
Community raises $21K to help Penticton boy battle third round of cancer

Okanoggin Barbers held the fundraiser on Saturday for 10-year-old Wills Hodgkinson

courts
Bryan Lamb back in jail after less than two weeks out on bail

A warrant for his arrest was issued and granted Feb. 22

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
UPDATE: 70-year-old man killed in workplace accident at Baldy Mountain

The mountain closed on Saturday but has partially re-opened today (Sunday)

Baldy Mountain Resort is temporarily closed following the death of a resort family member. Pictured above is a sunrise at the resort, Feb. 19, 2021. (Baldy Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Baldy Mountain ski hill closed following death of resort family member

Authorities currently investigating, resort set to reopen Sunday, Feb. 27

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Vernon Search and Rescue, with help from the Air Rescue One helicopter out of Wildcat Helicopters in Kelowna, and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, were able to transport an injured snowmobiler to Vernon Regional Airport, where he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital with a serious, painful back injury. (Facebook photo)
Okanagan helicopter rescue teams called to retrieve injured sledder at Greystokes

Vernon and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue help load injured man into waiting helicopter

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two separate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Most Read