Ottawa Citizen: An early-music Christmas Dec. 23 with counter-tenor Daniel Taylor, cellist Matt Haimovitz and Theatre of Early Music

December 21, 2011

Review City Music Chamber-May-24

If you’re looking to soothe your soul after weeks of trekking through shopping malls and enduring those excruciatingly shrieked American Idol-style versions of Christmas carols over the sound systems, you’ll find the perfect balm Friday Dec. 23 at a church on Elgin Street.

At Knox Presbyterian Church, the ars nova concert series is presenting Ottawa counter-tenor Daniel Taylor and the choir and orchestra of the Theatre of Early Music in music by Vivaldi, Handel and others. If the music-making matches previous appearances by the Montreal-based group, expect goosebumps. When the ensemble performed at the first edition of the Music and Beyond Festival in 2010, one of those in attendance was music-loving former cabinet minister Monique Begin, who aptly described the concert as “celestial.”

Friday’s concert will include star Montreal cellist Matt Haimovitz in Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto in B minor and the Cello Concerto in G major. Haimovitz performs internationally and teaches at McGill University.

The ethereal-voiced Taylor, who has lived in Montreal for many years, is one of the star singers of the international early-music scene, but he has also been praised for his work as director of the ensemble, which includes a choir and period-instrument orchestra. It includes some of North America’s best-known period-instrument performers, and the choir of professional singers produces warm and musical performances under his direction.

Friday’s concert will include Vivaldi’s Gloria, featuring soprano Agnes Zsigovics, John Tavener’s The Lamb, Handel’s Zadok the Priest and an excerpt from Messiah, Elizabeth Poston’s Jesus Christ the Apple Tree and the Basque carol The Angel Gabriel.

“I look forward to directing the pure voices of the choir accompanied by our chamber orchestra,” says Taylor, who describes the program as “a beautiful and simple expression of joy and wonder.”

Taylor first worked with Haimovitz on a recent recording project and says “I was drawn by his inspirational leadership, impeccable musicianship coupled with his sincerity and humour. His interpretation of these two Vivaldi concertos is captivating.”

It starts at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23, at Knox Church, Elgin Street at Lisgar. Tickets, at $45 general, $40 seniors, $15 students and $65 for reserved seating near the stage, will be at the door. Tickets by phone at 819-328-9447 or through the website, http://www.arsnova.ca

View at Ottawa Citizen

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