We have a choice of singalong Messiahs: passive watching tonight, or active singing on Dec. 19
Recorded last spring at technologically friendly Koerner Hall, tonight's broadcast features a dream quartet of soloists -- soprano Suzie LeBlanc, countertenor Daniel Taylor, tenor Rufus Mueller (both men return as soloists for this year's Messiah run) and bass-baritone Locky Chung -- the excellent Tafelmusik orchestra and chamber choir and conductor Ivars Taurins hamming it up for all it's worth, dressed up as George Frideric Handel himself.
The audience makes a fantastic choir, sounding every bit like a well-prepared large choral society -- even without Taurins shouting out at the singers at the top of his voice.
The overture is overlaid by clips of the musicians getting ready backstage, and Taurins providing a bit of historical background as he gets into costume. It's too bad the oratorio has been cut substantially to accommodate the 90-minute format, as well as Taurins' commentary.
In my opinion, the real magic of the Singalong Messiah is in being there to participate in the choruses. It's just not the same watching it on TV, no matter how nicely done. However, this is a great way for someone who has never heard the oratorio to check out Messiah without having to commit to buying a ticket. It could be the start of a life-long love affair.
Tafelmusik is running its Singalong Messiah YouTube video contest for the second time. People can submit 2 minutes of video by Sunday to have a chance of winning four free tickets to the Massey Hall concert on Dec. 19 and well as a basket of other goodies. Check out the details here.
Here is the teaser video for tonight's broadcast: