Tue, Apr 9, 2019 at 7:30pm
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Westminster United Church
745 Westminster Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada


MCO & Canzona perform ‘Israel in Egypt’ by Handel

Once a season or so, the MCO performs with a local choir, and the concert is invariably one of the season’s most popular. In 2019, the MCO has a particularly ambitious take on this tradition. We’ll be collaborating with Canzona, one of Canada’s top baroque choirs, to perform Handel’s epic Israel in Egypt.

Nearly 30 years have passed since legendary conductor Henry Engbrecht led Canzona through their first season. After a short pause from performing a couple years ago, Canzona has resumed their place as one of the city’s best-loved choirs under the baton of the accomplished Kathleen Allan.

Canzona displays a stunning command of the masterworks of the Baroque, but they also delight in introducing Winnipeg audiences to the rarely performed pieces and composers of the repertoire. We’ve split the difference at this concert: alongside the MCO, they perform one of the most rarely seen, and imaginative, works in Handel’s otherwise unavoidable oratorio repertoire.

Premiered in 1739, English audiences at the time weren’t quite sure what to make of this ingenious experiment. The composer who wrote the enraptured ‘Hallelujah’ peals in Messiah here takes a decidedly irreverent approach to his sacred (and rather grim) subject matter, peppering Israel in Egypt with parodies of other composers and with theatrical flourishes that can be downright goofy. When Moses is depicted as visiting pestilence upon the oppressive Egyptians, in a cheery aria entitled ‘Their land brought forth frogs’, Handel clarifies the scale of the frogs’ insurrection: “Yea, even in the king’s chambers!”

The epic nature of Israel in Egypt, fit for a Hollywood blockbuster, will be given its full due with a 28-voice strong choir and a mighty ensemble of the MCO that includes oboes, bassoons, trumpets, horn, timpani, organ, and harpsichord!

Kathleen Allan

With a masters in conducting from Yale, the recently appointed Artistic Director of Canzona is also a highly sought after composer and soprano. As a singer, she has appeared as a soloist with the National Broadcast Orchestra of Canada and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, while her compositions have been commissioned, performed and recorded by ensembles throughout the Americas and Europe. In addition to Allan’s intensive gig with Canzona, she somehow also finds time to act as Director of Choral Studies and Associate Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra at the Vancouver Academy of Music.

Tickets, at $35 for adults, $33 for seniors and $15 for students and those under-30 (incl. GST), are available at McNally Robinson, Organic Planet (877 Westminster Ave), and on MCO’s Ticketline at 204-783-7377.


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