A Christmas tradition; the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra under the direction of guest conductor Kathleen Allan, together with the Philharmonic Choir of the NSO presents Handel’s Messiah. Soloists: Meredith Hall, Vicki St. Pierre, Haitham Haidar, and Jorell Williams. Set in the historic and captivating Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.ca.
Kathleen Allan, conductor
Kathleen Allan is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto and the Artistic Director of Canzona, Winnipeg’s professional Baroque choir. Originally from St. John’s, NL, Ms. Allan is in high demand as a conductor, composer and clinician and is equally comfortable working in early, contemporary, and symphonic repertoire. Recent guest conducting engagements include the symphony orchestras of Vancouver and Newfoundland, as well as the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and Early Music Vancouver. In 2015, Ms. Allan made her Asian debut conducting Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Japan, and in 2016, she was the recipient of the Sir Ernest MacMillan Prize in Choral Conducting. She is a founding co-Artistic Director of Arkora, an electric vocal chamber consort dedicated to blurring lines between the music of our time and masterworks from the ancient repertoire.
Her compositions have been commissioned, performed and recorded by ensembles throughout the Americas and Europe and have been featured at two World Symposiums on Choral Music. Her collaboration with Labrador youth choir Ullugiagâtsuk was featured at the National Arts Centre celebrations for Canada 150 on July 1, 2017. She is published by Boosey and Hawkes, Cypress Choral Music, and is a MusicSpoke composer. Also an accomplished soprano, she has appeared as a soloist with the National Broadcast Orchestra, Berkshire Choral Festival, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In addition to freelancing regularly in Canada and the US, she has performed with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Arnold Schoenberg Chor (Vienna), Skylark Vocal Ensemble (Atlanta), and the Yale Schola Cantorum. She holds a degree in composition from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in conducting from Yale University.
Meredith Hall, soprano
Canadian soprano Meredith Hall delights audiences with her “lustrous sound and fluent legato” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “bravura musical performance matched by a riveting sense of the dramatic” (Boston Globe). She has performed the title roles of many operas including: Monteverdi’s L’INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA (Houston Grand Opera); Handel’s PARTENOPE (Göttingen Handel Festival, Germany); Rameau’s ZÉPHYRE (Philharmonia Baroque, San Francisco); Purcell’s DIDO AND AENEAS (Apollo’s Fire, Cleveland); Rauzzini’s PIRAMO E TISBE (Capella Savaria, Hungary), and Handel’s SEMELE (Handel and Haydn Society, Boston).
She has appeared in such notable venues as the Royal Albert Hall, the Palace of Versailles, and the Opera Comique de Paris. In concert Ms. Hall has sung Benjamin Britten’s LES ILLUMINATIONS (Talisker Players, Toronto), Aaron Copland’s POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON (Memphis Symphony), Baroque cantatas and arias (I Musici de Montreal) and Resphighi’s IL TRAMONTO with the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Oratorio highlights include masterworks of Bach, Handel, Schubert and Mozart with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Les Violons du Roi, Tafelmusik, and the Toronto Symphony. Toronto audiences have enjoyed Ms. Hall’s performances in Rameau’s HIPPOLYTE ET ARICIE and Handel’s ORLANDO for VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert, as well as Pamina in THE MAGIC FLUTE, and Zerlina in DON GIOVANNI for Opera Atelier, with whom she also performed Susanna in THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO in Tokyo.
A proud Newfoundlander, Ms. Hall’s first love is folk music. With Ensemble La Nef of Montréal she has created many projects which build on her Celtic roots, including 3 CD’S and a folk masque entitled “The Maid of Newfoundland”. SACRUM MYSTERIUM, her Christmas concert and with Apollo’s Fire (Cleveland) has received rave reviews and toured to sold out audiences across the United States. She has also recorded and toured internationally with her husband, classical guitarist Bernard Farley.
Vicki St. Pierre, contralto
Contralto Vicki St. Pierre’s voice “invitingly combines clarity of expression and beauty of tone,” and is described as “rich with both a darkness and brightness.” As a specialist in early music, she has performed internationally with such groups as The Academy of Ancient Music, Tafelmusik, Les Violons du Roy, The Portland Baroque Orchestra, and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra. She has also performed with Symphony Nova Scotia, the Edmonton Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Victoria Symphony (among many others). She has appeared on the operatic stage with Opera Atelier, Ensemble Masques de Montreal, Toronto Masque Theatre, Cleveland Opera and Early Music Vancouver, among others. A former Director of Music at the Cathedral Church of St. James in Toronto, she has directed choirs across Canada and in the UK, has been assistant conductor with Opera Atelier, and recently conducted an auditioned choir in Fredericton, and conducted the 2019 edition of the Ontario Youth Choir. With a doctorate in performance from the University of Toronto, she is on faculty at COSI summer opera training program in Sulmona, Italy, and at the Halifax Summer Opera Festival, where she musically directed and conducted L’incoronazione di Poppea in the summer of 2018. She has been a faculty member at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB since 2015, and now serving a 5-year term as the Dean of Arts.
Haitham Haidar, tenor
Haitham Haidar is a Lebanese-Palestinian Canadian tenor, currently based in Montreal. He is a proud graduate of Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music, McGill’s Schulich School of Music, and the University of British Columbia. Praised for his ‘ductile,’ ‘bright,’ and ‘robust’ tenor, Haitham enjoys performing oratorio, opera, and chamber music across North America, Europe, and Asia. Haitham is also a proud member of Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble, whose mission aims to present vocal music with the highest artistic excellence, while celebrating racial, ethnic, and gender diversity.
Upcoming projects include performances at ACDA and Byrd Consort. Haitham will also be joining Kathleen Allan in April 2022 in the role of Evangelist in Bach’s St. John Passion in Winnipeg. Haitham is often seen as a soloist and ensemble member in Montreal, performing repertoire ranging from chant to musical theatre with as much Arabic music as he can sprinkle in. Haitham’s approach to performance has always been humanity first. Being an Arab immigrant in North America comes with its unique set of oppressive challenges and it is because of that and what he sees around him in the field, that he aims to touch people’s hearts with music and compassion and make change in the world the best way he knows how.
Jorell Williams, baritone
Jorell Williams is an American operatic baritone with a wide variety of experience from standard repertoire to premiere pieces. He begins the 2019 – 2020 season with the world premiere of Kamala Sankaram’s Looking at You at the HERE Center for the Arts, returns to Seattle Opera for The Falling and the Rising and Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, and makes company debuts with Opera Birmingham in Independence Eve and Pacific Opera Victoria in Carmen. Mr. Williams previous season included the American premiere of Frank London’s Cuban-Yiddish Opera Hatuey: Memory of Fire with Peak Performances, followed by returns to Victory Hall Opera in The Medium, Finger Lakes Opera in La Boheme, and his New York City Opera debut, reprising the role of Hannah-Before in Laura Kaminsky’s As One.