Music Niagara Festival’s inaugural ChoralFest had a triumphant launch last Saturday night, as more than 185 people turned out to hear the Elmer Iseler Singers.
“It was a stunning concert that literally ended on a high note as the Iseler Singers and the audience raised their voices together in a jubilant rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus,” says board chair Margot Hickson. “It reminded me of the fun we’re going to have at the Nov. 23 Sing-Along Messiah concert, with a fabulous 75-member choir and a full symphony orchestra.”
Lord Mayor Betty Disero spoke at the opening concert and commended artistic director Atis Bankas for founding Music Niagara Festival more than 21 years ago. She talked about the importance of the festival to the town, and the work Bankas has done in teaching-up-and coming musicians, saying, “we wouldn’t have such talented musicians without the efforts of Atis and others…”
ChoralFest runs through Nov. 25, and includes a diverse group of choirs, musical genres and experiences. On Friday, Nov. 22, the Victoria Scholars, an internationally-acclaimed, award-winning, all-male choir performs at Our Lady of Peace Church in Niagara Falls. Bankas says he believes that “men’s choirs have become a rare but not-to-be missed phenomena.” He says he’s particularly impressed by the Victoria Scholars. “They have a noble and distinguished history, and their voices have the clarity and balance-of-sound characteristic of Renaissance music. But they feature works from many different eras, as well as contemporary pieces in a variety of styles. It is a unique, not-to-be-missed program in one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Ontario.”
ChoralFest is also showcasing many interesting children’s choirs, including the Celaya Conservatory Children’s Choir from Mexico. Bankas can’t say enough about Celaya. “I heard them sing in Mexico last Christmas, and was taken by their sincerity, the musicality of the performance and the outstanding sonority of their voices. The repertoire will range from traditional Mexican music to religious and familiar classical music. I encourage everyone to come and hear these talented Mexican children perform at St. Mark’s, which marks their very first trip to Canada, and first experience with our northern climate. Let’s support them by attending the performance.”
On Nov. 24, the Laura Secord Concert Choir performs at St. Mark’s Church. Recognized as a local treasure, the choir has earned accolades from music critics throughout North America and Europe. They’ve toured with international headliners, including Meesha Brueggergosman, Joe Seeley, Kenny Rogers and Molly Johnson, among others.
ChoralFest closes on Nov. 25, with one of the leading children’s choirs in the world, the Hamilton Children’s Choir. Former Music Niagara Performance Academy alumni, and Juillard student, Jasmin Linn will also perform at this concert, playing a rare John-Baptiste Vullaume “Messiah” Violin awarded to her by the Canada Council Instrument Bank for three years.
The Celaya Conservatory Children’s Choir will also make an appearance at this very special finale to ChoralFest.
For tickets and more information, visit musicniagara.org, shawfest.com or the Shaw Festival box office.