Repertory Singers return to the stage with “Candlelight and Carols”

by | Dec 17, 2021 | Arts and Entertainment | 0 comments

After nearly two years away from live performances, the Corvallis Repertory Singers return to the stage this weekend for “Candlelight and Carols,” the ensemble’s traditional holiday concert. And, to mark the occasion, the Repertory Singers are offering audiences a traditional favorite: Handel’s “Messiah.”

Not the entire “Messiah,” of course; that would take a couple of hours to perform in its entirety and would leave no room for the other musical treats the Repertory Singers have planned. Instead, the ensemble will perform Part I of Handel’s classic – and add on the most famous part of the composition, the “Hallelujah” chorus. (The famed chorus actually appears at the end of Part II of the “Messiah.”)

The Repertory Singers, the mid-valley’s premiere semiprofessional vocal ensemble, will perform the “Candlelight and Carols” concert twice, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18 and 3 p.m Sunday, Dec. 19. The performances will be held at the First United Methodist Church, 1165 NW Monroe Ave. in Corvallis. Tickets are $25 for seats on the main floor, $20 for balcony seating and $10 for students, aged 12 through college. They’re available through the Repertory Singers’ website.

(Full disclosure: I serve on the board of directors for the Repertory Singers. Even fuller disclosure: I do not sing in the ensemble. Consider this my Christmas gift to you.)

The Repertory Singers performed the “Messiah” in 2017, but it made sense to return to the classic this year, as the ensemble marked its return to singing live after nearly two years away due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been amazing to rehearse with the singers and the orchestra,” said Steven Zielke, the conductor and artistic director of the Repertory Singers, and the director of choral studies at Oregon State University. “Making music in community is the lifeblood of so many of the performers. It’s impossible to relate how painful the last two years have been, to have this thing which seems so basic to us taken away.”

As for the “Messiah,” Zielke said, “it really is incredible.” The masterpiece features “incredible solo work, and the choruses are so much fun. It’s extremely accessible. Handel knew how to write a hit.”

Soloists for the performance include:

  • Gale Hazel, a member of the Repertory Singers, and a frequent soloist in the Corvallis area. She studied voice at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri and at Oregon State University. Her vocal credits include performances in operas and oratorios, as well as performances in musical comedies and with jazz ensembles.
  • Taylor Hulett, an aspiring music educator and performer, who graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in music in vocal performance and choral education. She is finishing her master’s degree in vocal performance at Portland State University.
  • Nicolai Strommer, who’s been hailed by The New York Times as a “standout performer.” He holds degrees from Oregon State University, Manhattan School of Music and Boston University and is currently studying law at Willamette University.
  • Bryce Tomlin, an active performer who has spent time in the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest. He received a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University and a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Arizona.

The concert’s second half features a selection of carols and classics, with orchestral accompaniment and some a cappella selections. Zielke said he’s particularly excited about two choruses by Mendelssohn, especially “Verleigh Uns Frieden” (“Grant Us Peace”), which features a simple chorale theme and a cello duet.

Because of the COVID pandemic, capacity at the concert venue has been cut in half to allow social distancing. Attendees will be required to show proof of COVID vaccination; evidence of a recent negative COVID test will not be sufficient to be admitted to the concert. Unfortunately, children under 12 cannot be admitted. Musicians and Repertory Singers staff and volunteers are fully vaccinated. (As it turns out, I’ll be one of the people outside at the concert, reminding attendees to have their vaccination cards ready.) For more information, see the Repertory Singers’ website at repsing.org.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: “Candlelight and Carols,” a concert by the Corvallis Repertory Singers.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: First United Methodist Church, 1165 NW Monroe Ave., Corvallis.

TICKETS: Tickets are $25 main floor, $20 balcony, $10 students (12 years through college). A few are still available through the Repertory Singers’ website, repsing.org.

OF NOTE: As noted above, because of the COVID pandemic, capacity at the concert venue has been cut in half to allow social distancing. Attendees will be required to show proof of COVID vaccination; evidence of a recent negative COVID test will NOT be sufficient to be admitted to the concert. Unfortunately, children under 12 cannot be admitted. For more information, see the Repertory Singers’ website at repsing.org.

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