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Handel's Messiah

*Please silence your phone & turn down the brightness*

Mathieu Lussier, conductor
Kyle Briscoe, tenor
Anne-Marie Macintosh, soprano
Deepa Johnny, mezzo soprano
Vartan Gabrielan, bass-baritone
CMU Festival Chorus, Dr. Janet Brenneman, CMU Festival Chorus artistic director

George Frideric Handel: Messiah

Part the First


Part the Second
Part the Third

Part I:

Recitative: Comfort ye my people (tenor)
Air: Ev’ry valley shall be exalted (tenor)
Chorus: And the glory of the Lord

Recitative: Thus saith the Lord (bass)
Air: But who may abide the day of his coming (alto)
Chorus: And he shall purify

Recitative: Behold, a virgin shall conceive (alto)
Air and chorus: O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (alto)
Recitative: For behold, darkness shall cover the earth (bass)

Air: The people that walked in darkness (bass)
Chorus: For unto us a child is born

Pastoral Symphony: Pifa
Recitative: There were shepherds abiding in the fields (soprano)
Recitative: And the angel said unto them (soprano)
Recitative: And suddenly there was with the angel (soprano)
Chorus: Glory to God

Air: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion (soprano)
Recitative: Then shall the eyes of the blind (alto)
Air: He shall feed his flock (alto and soprano)
Chorus: His yoke is easy


Part II:

Chorus: Behold the Lamb of God
Air: He was despised (alto)
Chorus: Surely he hath borne our griefs
Chorus: And with his stripes we are healed
Chorus: All we like sheep have gone astray
Recitative: All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn (tenor)
Chorus: He Trusted in God
Recitative: Thy rebuke hath broken His heart (soprano)
Air: Behold and see if there be any sorrow (soprano)

Recitative: He was cut off out of the land (tenor)
Air: But thou didst not leave his soul (tenor)

Chorus: Lift up your heads, O ye gates

Air: Why do the nations (bass)
Chorus: Let us break their bonds asunder
Recitative: He that dwelleth in heaven (tenor)

Air: Thou shalt break them (tenor)
Chorus: Hallelujah

Part III:

Air: I know that my Redeemer liveth (soprano)
Chorus: Since by man came death

Recitative: Behold, I tell you a mystery (bass)
Air: The trumpet shall sound (bass)
Chorus: Worthy is the Lamb & Amen

The division into parts and scenes is based on the 1743 word-book prepared for the first London performance.

Mathieu Lussier, conductor

Artistic Director of Arion Baroque Orchestra, Mathieu Lussier has been associated with les Violons du Roy as Conductor-in-residence in 2012, and Associate Conductor from 2014 to 2018, Lussier has led the orchestra in concerts in Quebec, and on tour in greater Canada, the United States, Mexico and Brazil, collaborating with artists such as Marc-André Hamelin, Philippe Jarrousky, Alexandre Tharaud, Jeremy Denk, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Julia Lezhneva, Anthony Marwood and Karina Gauvin. Previous appointments include Artistic Director and Conductor of the Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival, where he served from 2008 to 2014. Continue reading...

Kyle Briscoe, tenor

Kyle Briscoe is blazing his own trail as a queer interdisciplinary artist focusing on opera performance and his love of pop music. From Winnipeg, Manitoba, Kyle is a prairie boy at heart and achieved a B.Mus. in vocal performance at the Desautles Faculty of Music while studying under Mel Braun. In the Fall of 2023, Kyle began his studies towards a M.Mus in Opera and Voice from McGill University in Montréal. In his short time at the Schulich School of Music, Kyle has performed a recital of Brahms songs as part of Michael McMahon’s song interpretation class, appeared in Opera McGill’s production of Sondheim at Segal and covered the role of Prince Ramiro in La Cenerentola. Continue reading…

Anne-Marie Macintosh, soprano

During her time at San Francisco Opera, Anne-Marie made her War Memorial Opera House mainstage debut as Marzelline in a new production of Beethoven’s Fidelio under the baton of newly-appointed Music Director Eun Sun Kim. She later sang the role of Soeur Valentine in Dialogues of the Carmelites and covered the roles of Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Berta (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Annina (La Traviata), and Euridice (Orfeo ed Euridice). Days before completing the program in 2022, Anne-Marie jumped in with hours notice as Euridice for the final performance of Orfeo ed Euridice. Continue reading…

Deepa Johnny, mezzo soprano

Born in Muscat, Oman, Mezzo-soprano Deepa Johnny has been quickly gaining recognition in major competitions and festivals on the operatic scene. Most recently, Deepa made her role debut as Meg Page in Falstaff alongside Bryn Terfel in the title role at the Aspen Music Festival, followed by her debut as Cherubino in a brand new production of Le Nozze di Figaro at Opera San Jose. Deepa’s 2022 season featured her Carnegie Hall debut at SongStudio in January as well as singing Suzuki in a concertized version of Madame Butterfly with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra guest conducted by Jun Märkl. Continue reading…

Vartan Gabrielan, bass-baritone

Canadian-Armenian bass-baritone Vartan Gabrielian is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company’s ensemble program and the Santa Fe Apprentice program. While still a student, he made his professional debut with the Opéra de Montréal performing the role of Sparafucile (Rigoletto). Highlights from last season included his role and house debut as Nourabad (Les pêcheurs de perles) at Vancouver Opera. At the Canadian Opera Company, a return engagement to perform Jailer (Tosca) and Dottore (Macbeth) in addition to covering Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Banquo (Macbeth), and First Nazarene (Salome). A sought-after concert performer, Gabrielian also performed Verdi’s Requiem under the baton of Francis Choinière. Continue reading…

CMU Festival Chorus

The CMU Festival Chorus—a choir of students, alumni, and friends of CMU—has a decades-long legacy of excellence in choral music. This auditioned choir frequently performs with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and has worked with many distinguished conductors over the years, including Helmut Rilling, Robert Shaw, Ivars Taurins, Jane Glover, Tania Miller, Bramwell Tovey, Andrey Boreyko and Alexander Mickelthwate. Continue reading…

Dr. Janet Brenneman, CMU Festival Chorus artistic director

Dr. Janet Brenneman is Associate Professor of Music at Canadian Mennonite University, where she teaches music education and conducts the CMU Singers, the CMU Women’s Chorus, and the CMU Festival Chorus. These choirs feature regularly in performance locally, across Canada, on Golden West Broadcasting, and as guest artists of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. During her time at CMU, the choirs have produced several recordings. Continue reading…

Classics Program Notes

George Frideric Handel
b. Halle, Prussia / February 23, 1685
d. London, England / April 14, 1759
Composed: 1741
First performance: 1742 (Dublin)

The most celebrated oratorio of all time, Messiah elicits an almost involuntary response of recognition at the mere mention of its name. It is the most loved of all oratorios and for all their estimable merits, neither the Passions of Bach nor Haydn’s Creation rival Messiah’s popularity, though Mendelssohn’s Elijah was, in the 19-century, considered its equal.

One feels the urge to sing as with no other work of its genre, as imperial melody, invention and vision are presented with the matchless proportion of a theatrical master. And for the gift of Messiah, we literally have to thank inches. As a young man, Handel’s life was saved and he was able to write the work after a metal frock button deflected a sword point in a duel!

Yet for all the visionary qualities in the music’s progression from dark to light, the dramatic strength of Messiah comes not from telling a story. Handel’s theatrical background was inbred when he composed Messiah, but his priority was contemplation of the sacred rather than the dramatic. “I should be sorry if I only entertained them,’’ Handel told an admirer. “I wished to make them better.’’

Messiah is an anomaly among Handel’s two dozen oratorios in that, apart from Israel in Egypt, its entire text is drawn from the Bible and it’s his only oratorio based on the New Testament. Messiah was also the only oratorio presented in a consecrated space during his lifetime. Not intended as part of a devotional service, Handel intended it as a middle-class entertainment with pious leanings and just a step removed from the Italian operatic style ventures he had been having success with as London’s leading composer, impresario and producer of opera.

But in 1740, Handel was having trouble keeping such ventures solvent. English public taste was moving away from continental influences towards more localized entertainments, spurred on by the success of the 1728 satirical romp The Beggar’s Opera by Gay and Pepusch. Rumors abounded that Handel was finished.

Handel withdrew from public life in the early months of 1741 and seldom ventured out. But that summer, he came across a small book of Biblical texts assembled by Charles Jennens, a wealthy pretentious type but a great admirer of the composer. Handel’s imagination lit up.

Rumor has it that Handel confined himself to his room, completing Messiah on September 14, 1741 in just over three weeks, but evidence shows that the Lord Lieutenant of Dublin had visited Handel early in 1741 to propose a new work for a series of Dublin charity concerts.

Handel traveled to Dublin that November and after the disappointments of London, took much pleasure in being enthusiastically received by the Irish press. Preparations for the premiere went on throughout the winter of 1742. Choristers were recruited from Dublin churches and excitement elevated to fever pitch.

The premiere on April 13, 1742 was a triumph. Handel couldn’t wait to take it home to London.

In London however, it was felt that Messiah’s texts would be compromised by performances in theatres propagated by actors of questionable morals. Messiah received a few subsequent performances but had to wait until more liberal times arrived in 1750 when Handel staged a performance to benefit London’s Foundling Hospital, a charity for abandoned children.

Such good will further ensured Messiah’s success, inspiring annual performances for the Foundling Hospital until Handel’s death in 1759. It was the last work Handel directed, just eight days before his death, and is the only major Baroque work that has an unbroken performance tradition from the time of its creation to the present day.



Gwen Hoebig,
The Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté Memorial Chair, endowed by the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation
Karl Stobbe,
  Associate Concertmaster
Jeff Dydra,
  Assistant Principal
Mona Coarda
Tara Fensom
Hong Tian Jia
Mary Lawton
Sonia Lazar
Julie Savard
Jun Shao
Rebecca Weger**


Chris Anstey,
Elation Pauls,
  Assistant Principal
Karen Bauch
Kristina Bauch,
Elizabeth Dyer
Bokyung Hwang
Rodica Jeffrey
Susan McCallum
Takayo Noguchi
Jane Radomski


Elise Lavallée,
  Acting Principal
Dmytro Kreshchenskyi,**
  Acting Assistant Principal
Marie-Elyse Badeau
Laszlo Baroczi
Richard Bauch
Greg Hay
Michael Scholz


Yuri Hooker,
Robyn Neidhold,
  Assistant Principal
Ethan Allers
Arlene Dahl
Alyssa Ramsay*
Sean Taubner
Emma Quackenbush


Meredith Johnson,
Daniel Perry,
  Assistant Principal
James McMillan
Eric Timperman*
Emily Krajewski
Taras Pivniak**


Jan Kocman,
  Supported by Gordon & Audrey Fogg
Alex Conway


Alex Conway,


Beverly Wang,
Robin MacMillan
Kelsey Nordstrom (guest)


Micah Heilbrunn,
Alex Whitehead


Kathryn Brooks,
Elizabeth Mee


Patricia Evans,
Ken MacDonald,
  Associate Principal
  The Hilda Schelberger Memorial Chair
Aiden Kleer
Caroline Oberheu
Michiko Singh


Chris Fensom,
Isaac Pulford
  The Patty Kirk Memorial Chair
Paul Jeffrey,
  Associate Principal


Steven Dyer,*
Keith Dyrda,
  Acting Principal
Kyle Orlando**


Eric Prodger**


Justin Gruber,


Andrew Johnson,


Andrew Nazer (guest)


To be determined
  Endowed by W.H. & S.E. Loewen
Alanna Ellison**


Cary Denby, organ (guest)
Michelle Mourre, harpsichord (guest)


Isaac Pulford


Michaela Kleer


Aiden Kleer


* On Leave
** One-year appointment

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