By Erle Levey
A WONDERFUL combination of local singers with a state orchestra created a world-class performance of Handel’s Messiah at Caloundra Events Centre on Friday night.
The Queensland Symphony Orchestra was joined by a 75-strong Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir for what is regarded as a musical fixture of the Christmas season, the power of The Messiah still drawing massive audiences 250 years after the composer’s death.
Oriana was chosen for the one-off Sunshine Coast performance as part of a tour throughout regional Queensland by the QSO in December.
In other regional performances the QSO has required the services of The Australian Voices to boost the local participating choirs.
However, Oriana was deemed to be of sufficient size and standard to support QSO in its own right, with the addition of six singers from The Australian Voices.
Featured soloists included Melbourne-born soprano Natalie Christie Peluso, mezzo soprano Bronwyn Douglass, a graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, British-based baritone David Wakeham, and Queensland’s own Nick Kirkup singing tenor.
Oriana Arts Inc president Melissa Innes felt extremely privileged to be singing on stage with the QSO.
She said conductor for the event, Gordon Hamilton, a world renowned composer in his own right and the artistic director of The Australian Voices, was in seventh heaven.
“He was completely involved … engulfed in the music. He was totally engaged with the singers and the musicians. It was amazing to watch.”
Melissa said the four soloists were all different but all telling the same story.
“And what a story. Handel’s Messiah is regarded as the finest celebrations of Christ.
“The choir was absolutely impressed by the local support that was expressed in the standing ovation … tears flowed in the choir as well as the audience.
“We were very excited to have been selected to participate. It brought a performance standard generally only seen in major capital cities to the Sunshine Coast, making it accessible and affordable for local residents to enjoy.
“It was a very proud moment when the conductor acknowledged the sheer volume of effort and preparation put in by Oriana Choir music director Sandra Milliken and Fay Baker.”
Mooloolaba resident Jocelyn Walker was one of those in the audience with tears in her eyes.
“It was a world-class performance,” she said. “What a pleasure to hear those magnificent voices that belong to Sunshine Coast singers in the Oriana Choir. I am so proud of their achievement.”
Choir member Emrys Jones said the performance was absolutely wonderful to be involved in.
“We were given a long standing ovation by an immensely appreciative audience. An
Oriana Choir music director Sandra Milliken said it was a musically inspired interpretation that married the text and the music in an incredible woven fabric.
“The connection between orchestra and choir was unlike any Messiah experience that many have experienced over the years,” she said.