Hark! The Elora Festival Sings Warmly Through Another Cold Winter

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By Jared Davison

The Grammy and Juno-nominated Elora Festival Singers is about to launch its ever-popular series of performances for the fall and winter season. This annual tradition showcases 6 comforting choral performances in both Fergus and Elora to take the chill out of the coming months.

On Oct 27th, the Elora Festival Singers and organist Michael Bloss ponder the autumnal harvest with the aptly titled Nine Lessons and Carols for Harvest; a program of stirring song accompanied by reflective texts. Lessons derived from poets like T.S. Elliot mingle with scriptural extracts expertly voiced by Robert Hulse. Musical highlights include pieces by Canadian composers Mark Sirett and James Rolfe alongside Dvorak, Elgar, Mendelsohn and more.

A regular feature in the repertoire of the Elora Festival Singers, the one-act opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, Amahl and the Night Visitors, is back by popular demand.  According to Menotti, this holiday favourite is a charming opera that “tries to recapture my own childhood”. With an original English libretto by the composer, this work is the story of how a young shepherd boy’s life changes forever. With pianist James Bourne and organist Michael Bloss, the Elora Festival Singers bring this timeless and inspiring message to St. John’s Church on November 30th in Elora.

Handel’s Messiah, is one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music. Warming your hearts at the hearth of heavenly music, Conductor Noel Edison brings this 1741 oratorio to life with the Festival Chamber Players and the Elora Festival Singers. Originally for modest vocal and instrumental forces, this frequently adapted work based on English scriptural texts, takes on the flair and flavor of Maestro Edison’s distinctive interpretation December 8th at St. Joseph’s Church in Fergus.

Fast becoming a Christmas tradition itself, Festival of Carols has three performance times just to accommodate the popularity of this communal event filled with wit and good cheer. Billed as “a lighter look at the sacred and secular aspects of the holiday season,” Festival of Carols is a sleigh-ride through the musical landscape of holiday merriment. Robert Hulse narrates humorous anecdotes while the Elora Festival Singers and organist Michael Bloss perform traditional works and engage the audience with participatory caroling. This seasonal favourite, which has been called an “aural version of mulled cider,” will warm up patrons at St. John’s Church in Elora on December 18th and 20th .

Warm cider is no match against a hearty soup on a blustery winter day and the well-loved Soup Concert series is back on January 19th of 2014 to prove just that. With a light lunch served at the Elora Legion prior to a performance talk by Noel Edison, the Elora Festival Singers then take on Brahms sacred 7-movement work from the late 1860’s, A German Requiem. Originally scored for numerous instruments, this performance will be an orchestral reduction for organ with chorus and soloists at St. John’s Church in Elora.

Closing the winter series with Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion on April 6th of 2013, the Elora Festival Singers and the Festival Chamber Players bring this sacred oratorio of dramatic recitatives and reflective chorales to the astonishing acoustic environment of St. Joseph’s Church in Fergus.

Tickets for these performances can be purchased by calling 519-846-0331, or online at www.elorafestival.com.