Cochranites have an opportunity to enjoy the only large-scale performance of Handel's Messiah in the Calgary area this Saturday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m.

The 50-member Bow Valley Chorus will be performing the masterpiece at Cochrane's Bow Valley Baptist Church, 54 W Aarsby Rd. This awe-inspiring music was composed in 1741 and continues to this day, to be regarded as one of the world’s most popular musical works.

John Goulart, award-winning conductor and founder of the Bow Valley Chorus, says it's something special for Cochrane, particularly when the Calgary Philharmonic is not holding its traditional Messiah weekend this Christmas.

"I don't think that there are any other performances of the Messiah in the Calgary area at all, so this is going to be the only large-scale performance of the Messiah for this year. It's going to be a major event for people if they want to experience the Messiah at Christmastime."

The Bow Valley Chorus will be accompanied by a full orchestra, along with soloists Lauren Woods (soprano), Kassandra Schantz (mezzo) Steven Morton (tenor), and Paul Grindlay (bass).

Handel's Messiah was the first of the musical form 'oratorio' and may be appreciated on many levels, since it contains hummable tunes, rousing choruses, virtuoso arias, many memorable moments, and deeply spiritual texts. Apart from a couple of purely instrumental movements, it consists of Bible passages from the Old and New Testaments that are sung by solo voices (with an occasional duet) or chorus, with orchestral accompaniment.

In its entirety, Messiah has 53 movements in three parts and is close to three hours in duration. The version they'll be performing is about 70 minutes in length with an intermission to make it audience-friendly while retaining all the major arias and choral sections.

"We do it with a full orchestra, we do it with the trumpets and the timpani and strings. We present it in such a way that it is a joyous Christmas event because that's when the Messiah is often played during Christmastime."

This is the 22nd year of the Bow Valley Chorus, which has become a vital and integral part of the Banff-Canmore cultural community. Its concerts are mainly in Banff, Canmore, and Calgary, although they did perform here once in 2007.

Tickets are available online here, from chorus members, or at the door unless sold out in advance.

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