Handel's Messiah Sing-along
Guest Conductor: Don Conley
November 28, 2021 @ 2:00 pm
Fulford Hall, Salt Spring Island
Does the holiday season give you an uncontrollable desire to burst into song? Join the Bach on the Rock Choir and Orchestra for a thrilling sing-along of Handel’s most beloved choral masterpiece: Messiah. Pick up a score, warm up your vocal chords, don your holiday finest, and join us for one of the best-loved traditions of the holiday season. The audience will be invited to sing along in the choruses - vocal scores will be available to borrow, or bring your own.
For this concert BotR will be performing an arrangement of Handel’s Messiah written in 1902 by musicologist Ebenezer Prout. Prout’s arrangement is based on a previous arrangement of the work by W.A. Mozart, which was not only re-orchestrated but partly recomposed. In the Prout arrangement the chamber orchestra is boosted by additional flutes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trombones, and percussion, which was the practice in the early 20th century to suit the large choral societies and large performing spaces common at the time.
Bach on the Rock will be joined by soloists Gwen Jamieson (Soprano), Deanna Sills (Mezzo-Soprano), Don Fisher (Tenor) and Louis Dillon (Bass) for this performance.
Gwen Jamieson’s passion for early music is reflected in her frequent solo appearances in Victoria. In February, 2021, she was featured by the Early Music Society of the Islands in a videoed mainstage performance, “Airs de Cour and Courtly Airs”, accompanied by Douglas Hensley and Martin Bonham. Gwen has appeared regularly with the Ancient Music Society of Victoria, including a gala concert in 2019 with Benjamin Bagby. She has also performed a number of times as part of the annual UVic Medieval Conference and has been a member of the medieval-folk ensemble Banquo for several years. Gwen has appeared in the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s Oratorio and Advanced Vocal Performance Programs, including solo work in Handel’s Solomon. She has two CD recordings to her credit.
Gwen’s evident talent and interest in early music attracted the attention of the late Michael Jarvis, who invited her to become a Choral Scholar with St. Barnabas Anglican Church. In that position, under the new directorship of Marco Vitale, she continues to be immersed in sacred Renaissance polyphony.
In 2019, Gwen made her debut as solo soprano in Handel’s Messiah, with the Bach on the Rock choir and orchestra under the direction of Michael Jarvis. Her performance earned a review that singled out her performance, saying, “The soprano soloist’s voice and wonderfully expressive face was one of the highlights of the performance.”
Gwen has a bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Victoria, and a Diploma in Vocal Performance from Camosun/Victoria Conservatory of Music.
Deanna was the alto soloist for Victoria Baroque’s performances of Handel’s Messiah Part 1 in December 2020 and Parts II & III in March 2021. She was also a featured student in the annual Spark to Flame concert for the Victoria Conservatory of Music (VCM) in February 2020.
After having a family and an administrative career in social sciences, Deanna decided to come back to her love of classical singing in 2018. Since then, Deanna has taken part in several of the VCM’s vocal programs including the 2021 Summer Intensive Program Advanced Singers Course (directed by Nancy Argenta and Ingrid Attrot and guest faculty Benjamin Butterfield and Anne Grimm), the 2019 Mahler Project (directed by Kathryn Whitney), the 2018 Vaughan Williams Project (Kathryn Whitney) and the 2018 Summer Academy Advanced Oratorio Program which culminated in a performance of Handel’s Solomon where Deanna shared the role of Solomon (directed by Nancy Argenta and Ingrid Attrot with coaching from artists Mel Braun, Benjamin Butterfield, Daniel Taylor, and Steven Devine).
Deanna has a Bachelor’s Degree in Voice Performance from the University of Victoria where she studied with Susan Young. She currently studies voice with Nancy Argenta and Ingrid Attrot.
Tenor Don Fisher travelled the world for four years as a young folk singer “back in the day”, performing wherever opportunity offered. After returning to Canada, he stopped singing and took a day job, resuming his musical life only after moving to Salt Spring in 1987. Inspired by his introduction to art song and classical music, he took part in festivals and competitions, and performed extensively.
Don’s last concert was more than seven years ago, with the late Barry Valentine. Don performed Messiah’s tenor solos with Salt Spring Singers in 1999, and with Bach on the Rock each year from 2011 to 2015.
Quite simply, Don loves to sing.
Born and raised in Halfmoon Bay, BC, bass-baritone Louis Dillon owes his love of singing to his mother, a voice teacher. He currently studies with Ingrid Attrot and Nancy Argenta and is working hard to complete a diploma in Vocal Performance at the Victoria Conservatory of Music.
Louis has sung with Pacific Opera Victoria’s chorus for the past three seasons, appearing with them as the second prisoner in Fidelio and the Customs Sergeant in La Boheme, and also as a soloist in their outreach programs. In his efforts to become more at home on the stage, Louis has sung roles such as Sarastro (The Magic Flute), Al (City Workers in Love), Guglielmo (Cosí Fan Tutte), and Bartolo (Le Nozze di Figaro) in various student productions, and will be returning to The Magic Flute as Papageno in VCM’s upcoming production. Outside of opera, Louis has performed in concert with East Van Opera, the VCM orchestra, Sooke Philharmonic, and the Victoria Baroque Players, and works as a choral scholar at the First Metropolitan United Church. In 2017, his performances won him 1st place at the 2017 Performing Arts BC Provincials.