Choir leads singalong of Christmas favourite

Members of the Malaspina Choir want their audience to join them in song

Members of the Malaspina Choir want their audience to join them in song.

The choir, with accompaniment from the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra, presents Handel’s Messiah, with an opportunity for the audience to join the singing.

“Like last year’s show, we do it as a singalong,” said Wade Noble, the choir’s director. “It worked out really well.”

Audience members don’t have to sing, but the ones who do are divided up according to the four ranges – soprano, alto, tenor and baritone.

Sheet music is provided and the choir sits with the audience, giving participants experienced voices to follow.

Handel wrote his vast Requiem in the mid-1700s and since then its performance became a tradition at Christmas, particularly the Hallelujah chorus.

Performances vary widely, depending on the size of choir and orchestra.

Some productions go for grandeur and presents thousands of musicians and singers – leading to a show that, without significant cuts to the material, stretches into four hours because of the slow tempo.

Noble’s show, however, is much like Handel would have presented – a small choir and orchestra which keeps the tempo of the piece upbeat and the length of a typical concert.

“Everything Handel wrote is a dance,” Noble said.

Messiah will be Noble’s last concert after 10 years with the Malaspina Choir, which saw the group grow into 50-60 regular members performing grand, concert works with orchestra.

“If I have a legacy with the group its that people can say we moved in that direction,” Noble said. “After 10 years, it’s always good to shake things up.”

Noble, who lives in Victoria, found the commute to Nanaimo for rehearsal increasingly difficult with his work commitments. He continues to teach and direct choirs in Victoria. In the new year, Gary Froese will take over as director of Malaspina Choir.

“It’s very sad – I really love this group,” Noble said.

See the Malaspina Choir perform Handel’s Messiah with the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra on Dec. 18, 3 p.m., at St. Andrew’s United Church.

Tickets $20; $15/students through the Port Theatre ticket centre. Please call 250-754-8550.

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