The high school chamber choir of the Oxford Reformed Christian School in Mount Elgin will be taking on a huge performance next month in Woodstock.
The choir will be performing Handel’s Messiah, an oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel that tells the story of Jesus Christ. Head of music at Oxford Reformed Christian School Johan VanIttersum said Handel’s Messiah his students have been studying the piece since September, meeting after school to practice.
“It’s a big undertaking,” he said. “Last year we performed Vivaldi’s Gloria, which is similar to Messiah, but it’s much smaller in scope… Because of it’s success and the community’s response we felt like we could tackle something of a bigger scope.”
VanIttersum said that Messiah is most often performed around Christmas, but it was first performed and intended to be performed around Easter.
“Handel himself performed it around Easter,” VanIttersum said. “So it’s certainly not inappropriate to perform it at this time.”
The choir is made up of 38 singers, 30 of which are currently in high school, while eight of them are alumnus or teachers at the school, and a professional orchestra will accompany the choir for their performance.
“Handel’s Massiah is a classic choral piece, it is probably the best known large choral work in western choral literature,” VanIttersum said. “If you have a love for singing you haven’t lived until you’ve sung Messiah.”
VanIttersum said that he believes his students should be exposed to Handel, adding that the school places a lot of value on music and choral singing.
“I’m very proud of my chorus, there are very few high schools in Ontario that would tackle a piece with this kind of complexity,” he said. “In terms of range, technical know how and stamina, the students have to be quite capable in order to deliver Messiah successfully.”
The Oxford Reformed Christian School chamber choir will perform Handel’s Messiah on April 7 and 8 at the Knox Presbyterian Church in Woodstock.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and can be purchased by calling the school at (519) 485-1142 or they can be purchased at the door.