Wollongong Messiah Choir joined forces with almost 700 other singers for epic performances of Handel’s Messiah at Sydney Opera House.
The specially formed Wollongong Messiah Choir joined a cast of almost 700 singers, a full orchestra and international soloists in the Opera House for a performance of this much-loved work which tells the story of Christ’s life.
Two hundred and eighty years since it was first performed in Dublin in 1742, Handel’s Messiah remains one of the most loved pieces of classical music in the world, performed by hundreds of thousands of singers around the globe every Christmas.
This December it came alive in spectacular form, presented by Australia’s leading choral organisation on the country’s most renowned concert stage, conducted by the inimitable Brett Weymark, Music Director of Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.
“It’s been wonderful to bring singers from across the region and the University of Wollongong for regular rehearsals at UOW under the expert tuition of local Baritone, Hayden Barrington who has been leading rehearsals. Many people will be familiar with elements of the Messiah, like the famous ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ but to sing the whole work – from memory – in Sydney Opera House is a major achievement, and something of a bucket-list event for many people who love to sing.”
The Wollongong Messiah choir joined other Sydney choirs: Symphony Chorus, Chamber Singers, VOX, Christmas Choir and Parramatta’s River City Voices to perform the piece from memory.
Biologist and writer Alison Haynes from the University of Wollongong joined the Wollongong Messiah Choir because she had previously sung the piece at school in England, in The Royal Albert Hall.
“I thought it was a rather nice symmetry to sing it again in the Sydney Opera House. It’s been very enjoyable, our choir leader Hayden has a light, friendly touch which has helped. It’s been a big commitment but I’m glad I’ve kept up.
“I like singing and making music as a group and that’s been the main benefit. I’m absolutely looking forward to the performances. I know it will be amazing to be part of a larger voice and it will be worth all the hard work.” Said Alison who is pictured above during a field trip to the Antarctic in 2020.
Another participant, ABC Radio broadcaster Melinda James said she was excited about the opportunity to sing the Messiah at the Opera House and couldn’t believe she didn’t have to audition.
“I can definitely sing in tune, but my voice is probably best suited to a choir involving several hundred fellow choristers. I’m not soloist material but I do have a deep love of choral music. The thing I’m most looking forward to is that physical, transcendental feeling of making music as one with hundreds of individuals, that feeling when all the cells in your body resonate and reverberate with the shifting harmonies. And to think it will all be happening in the new concert hall at the Opera House. I’m still pinching myself. I’m so grateful to the Wollongong conservatorium for getting involved and giving us the opportunity.”
Altogether there were almost 700 singers on the Concert Hall stage at the Sydney Opera House.
With a sublime cast of soloists including Lorina Gora, Ashlyn Tymms, Nicholas Jones, and Morgan Pearse, and the Sydney Philharmonic Orchestra, it was a musical tour de force.