News Story

Canadians Sing Handel’s ‘Messiah’ With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

As part of this year’s Easter celebrations, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square presented Handel’s “Messiah” in its entirety through a worldwide live stream on Good Friday, March 25, 2016. 

Using the live stream, various communities, music and church groups joined their voices with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and four invited New York Metropolitan Opera soloists, singing “Messiah” at various locations throughout the world. Ron Jarrett, the choir’s president, commented, “This is a wonderful way to celebrate the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ with all Christians of the world.”

Canadian members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted the live stream in meetinghouses across the country. Of particular note are events that were organized in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Toronto, Ontario; and Edmonton, Alberta.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, members of the Church joined with others to sing Handel’s “Messiah” at Dalhousie University. Most who attended were familiar with the musical score, but it was the first time any of them had the opportunity to sing along with 360 voices backed up by a 150-member symphony orchestra.

Anna Davison, Church public affairs director for the Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake, invited Margie Blundell of Chester, Nova Scotia, to the broadcast. Blundell attended with her husband and commented that they enjoyed the opportunity. She said, “Although [we were] rather intimidated by the choir and soloists, we were impressed that we actually did follow along very well. Next time we should be singing at full voice!”

Lesley Brechin, an administrative officer at Dalhousie University’s Fountain School of Performing Arts, provided the venue free of charge and arranged for copies of the “Messiah” score to be loaned to audience members during the event. Additional copies of the score were lent by the Nova Scotia Choral Federation. A Dalhousie student and member of the Church, Denim Arnoldson, provided technical support, while Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake public affairs specialists and their spouses offered other assistance.

At the door, food and cash donations were accepted by Feed Nova Scotia, an umbrella group located in Halifax that collects and distributes food to Nova Scotia food banks.

Toronto, Ontario

Handel’s “Messiah” was live streamed at the Toronto Ontario Stake Centre and attended by nearly 150 participants. Jim Wilson, co-director of Church public affairs in Toronto, extended invitations to the Toronto Area Interfaith Council (TAIC) and the Horizon Interfaith Communication Media Council, a nonprofit organization representing many religions and faith groups across the Greater Toronto Area.

Chander Khanna, a prominent leader of the Hindu faith in Toronto, Ontario, and a long-time member of the TAIC, accepted the invitation. Mr. Khanna said of the “Messiah” event, “It was a marvellous experience. Former Prime Minister Ghandi [of India] said the one thing he still wanted to do before he died was to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform the ‘Messiah.’”

The Reverend Cynthia Scott of the Metropolitan United Church and Ann Irving of St. Leonard’s Anglican Church and a member-at-large of the TAIC, also enjoyed the event. “I'm so glad we came!” said Rev. Scott. “I heard about [the event] from my friends on the Toronto Area Interfaith Council.” Irving expressed her gratitude, saying, “Thank you for welcoming us so graciously.”

Also in attendance were Kullervo Hynynen, president of the Toronto Ontario Stake; Arnold Moore, co-director of Church public affairs in Ontario; and Jim Wilson, co-director of Church public affairs in Toronto.

Edmonton, Alberta

About 150 people from the four Edmonton-based stakes met at the Bonnie Doon Stake Centre to participate in the live stream. Church members who love to sing were encouraged to invite their friends from choirs with which they have participated.

Eileen Bell, director of Church public affairs in Edmonton, organized the Edmonton-based event and said, “It was an emotional, beautiful evening.” She indicated that many of the concertgoers expressed their enthusiasm about participating in the concert.

Jane Sutherland, a Church member living in Edmonton, said, “I thought it was a sublime experience. To hear witness of the Saviour like this was a transcendent moment. I brought my 90-year-old dad with me, and he stood and sang the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus with us. He’s just been thrilled to be here with us. He sings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at home and now with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir here!”

“It was incredible,” said Church member Cindy Suelzle of Edmonton. “I have decided that I will listen to Handel’s ‘Messiah’ every Easter. It’s a shame that we usually only listen to it at Christmas. It was written for Easter, and it really does end at Easter. Easter is what it is all about.”

Virtual “Hallelujah” Chorus

Earlier this month, choir fans were invited to sing Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus in the world’s largest virtual Hallelujah choir by uploading their recordings on YouTube. Many of the 2,500 submissions are featured in a virtual choir video that was released on March 13.

Contributed by Mary Chapman and Michèle Hynynen

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