Members of the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra will be performing their annual Christmas concert four times this year, with the final one taking place in Chilliwack.
The CSO presents Messiah in the Valley Dec. 9 to 16. The concerts will be conducted by Paula DeWit and held in Abbotsford on Dec. 9, Vancouver on Dec. 10, Surrey on Dec. 11 and at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Dec. 16.
“One of the special challenges in performing Messiah year after year is to keep the work sounding fresh, as if one had just discovered it,” DeWit said. “Those in attendance can expect to hear a more detailed, articulate style and quicker tempos based on baroque dance rhythms and speech patterns.”
The first three concerts will be “more intimate” than the one in Chilliwack, she said.
On Dec. 9, 10 and 11, folks will hear a special edition of the nine-member CSO baroque ensemble, along with choral group Belle Voci and professional vocal soloists Colleen Donnelly, Shane Hanson, Jonny Michel and Dave Rosborough. The baroque ensemble will all be playing period instruments.
For the Dec. 16 concert, it will be a modern version of Handel’s Messiah and will feature the full CSO orchestra and chorus, plus Belle Voci and the four soloists. It will be the first time in three years that the CSO chorus will be performing live onstage.
Each venue has “stunning aesthetics and beautiful acoustics,” DeWit said.
She spoke about what it’s been like rehearsing together again.
“The rehearsals have been lovely. The (members) have had so much excitement and energy to dig into this after not doing it for three years,” DeWit said. “The atmosphere in rehearsals is amazing.”
Some members described their experiences singing together.
“I am a ‘rocker’ by heart. I grew up listening and playing classic rock music,” said Shane Hipwell with the CSO chorus. “It wasn’t until I joined the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in 2018 where my mind was immediately blown by the intricate beauty and message of Handel’s Messiah.”
This will be Hipwell’s third season joining the CSO, chorus and Belle Voci in Handel’s Messiah.
“Making music with these talented musicians has fostered in me such a joy of singing and a love and respect for classical music,” he said.
Belle Voci member Sonja Strimbei said Messiah in the Valley will be a “spectacular” performance.
“Each year I look forward to this beautiful, time-honoured holiday tradition even more than the previous,” she said. “Such a spectacular performance in the Fraser Valley is not to be missed.”
The Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra presents Messiah in the Valley Dec. 9, 10, 11 and 16. Tickets are $40 and available on their website at chilliwacksymphony.com.
Show dates/locations are: Friday, Dec. 9 at St. James Catholic Church in Abbotsford; Saturday, Dec. 10 at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver; Sunday, Dec. 11 at Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church in Surrey; and Friday, Dec. 16 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. All concerts start at 7:30 p.m.