Jan Gates photo                                Alexander Weimann directing the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Vancouver Cantata Singers, who will join forces for Early Music Vancouver’s presentation of a period-authentic version of Handel’s 1742 masterpiece Messiah Nov. 30 at White Rock Baptist Church.

Jan Gates photo Alexander Weimann directing the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Vancouver Cantata Singers, who will join forces for Early Music Vancouver’s presentation of a period-authentic version of Handel’s 1742 masterpiece Messiah Nov. 30 at White Rock Baptist Church.

The Scene – arts and entertainment with Alex Browne

Early Music Messiah Nov. 30; White Rock Community Orchestra concert coming; FVGSS Little Mermaid panto continues

Early Music Messiah

Early Music Vancouver is including White Rock audiences in the energy and drama of its first-ever production of Handel’s Messiah, with a performance Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at White Rock Baptist Church (the presentation is also scheduled for Dec. 1 and 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Vancouver Playhouse).

Music director and harpsichordist Alexander Weimann will lead the Juno-nominated Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Vancouver Cantata Singers and four internationally acclaimed vocalists in a performance that promises to bring new life to Handel’s masterwork by returning it to a dynamic truer to the earliest performances (including its debut in Dublin in 1742).

“It’s going to have a more immediate and visceral impact,” EMV executive and artistic director Matthew White told Peace Arch News, acknowledging that over the course of more than two centuries, Messiah has become something of a battlefield between those who seek ever-larger and more grandiose choral and symphonic stagings, and those who would like to see it returned to the pared-down parameters of original baroque music.

White calculates he has been involved in 100 different performances of Messiah with ensembles both huge and small during his career.

“It says something about the quality of Handel’s music that it can survive so many interpretations,” he said, noting the musicians in the EMV performance will be using period-authentic instruments, from a baroque valveless trumpet to copper tympani, with the strings tuned to the lower pitch (or temperament) of Handel’s time.

“These are all instruments that Handel would have recognized – for instrumentalists involved with historic performance practice, they feel period instruments make it easier to express this music, the way a person would feel more comfortable speaking in their native language.”

Terming the Cantata Singers the “finest choral singers in Vancouver,” White noted that guest soloists Yulia Van Doren (soprano), Krisztina Szabó (mezzo-soprano), Charles Daniels (tenor), and Tyler Duncan (baritone) all have extensive experience performing Handel with some of the most respected baroque specialists in the world.

“They are all international stars of Handel singing – these are absolutely top-notch people,” he said, adding that a venue the size of White Rock Baptist Church (roughly equivalent to the hall in which Messiah debuted in Dublin) will help take vocal performance away from “an obsession with projection” to a more nuanced, conversational style of musical storytelling.

“It’s bringing baroque gesture and rhetoric back to the music, which makes for a more human and accessible experience,” he said.

The church is located at 1657 140 St., and tickets ($18) are available from earlymusic.bc.ca or 604-822-2697.

WRPC Hunchback

The White Rock Players Club’s panto-ized version of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame The Hunchback of Notre Panto runs Dec. 1-30 at Coast Capital Playhouse, 1532 Johnston Rd.

Directed by Alex Lowe from an original script by White Rock panto veteran Dave Baron, it’s a modern take on the medieval tale of Quasimodo, the deformed bellringer of Notre Dame cathedral, which poses a timeless question – just what makes us human and what makes us monstrous?

Of course, there’s plenty of typical panto fun along the way, including an over-the-top dame, Shenanigans the giraffe – White Rock’s patented variation on the panto animal – plenty of topical White Rock references and a round-up of the year’s events in the traditional dame-comedian duet The Wonderful Year We Fell In Love.

Shows are at 8 p.m. with a 2:30 p.m. matinee Boxing Day (Dec. 26).

For tickets, call 604-536-7535, or visit whiterockplayers.ca

WRCO Christmas

White Rock Community Orchestra, directed by Maestra Paula DeWit, will present its annual Christmas concert Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 1480 George St.

Special guests are Maria Moularas (harp), mezzo-soprano Ingrid Mapson and the Chilliwack Children’s Choir.

Featured in the program will be a composition with a strong local angle, Vancouver Waltz, by Irish-born former White Rock resident Walter O’Keeffe (1930-2007) who was the proprietor of the Chit-Chat Cafe at Five Corners in the 1970s.

Tickets (including post-concert refreshments) are $15 (children 12 and under free), and are available at the door, from orchestra members, or online at wrco.ca

Welsh Men’s Choir

The Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir presents Sounds of Christmas, Saturday, Dec. 2 at 2:30 p.m. at White Rock Baptist Church, 1657 140 St.

Special guests are the Johnston Heights Secondary School Choir, and fiddler Cam Wilson. Tickets are available at www.vwmc.ca or at Tapestry Music, 604-538-0906.

Little Mermaid

FVGSS’ latest pantomime, The Little Mermaid, continues at Surrey Arts Centre until Dec. 3.

It’s written by Michael Balser and Barbie Warwick (from an original script by Peter Zednik), and directed by Balser, with musical direction by Timothy Tucker and choreography by Tamara Jaune and Elisabeth Lay.

“We based it on a script that was done in North Vancouver – but that show was only an hour long, so we’ve inserted a couple of new scenes,” Balser said.

It’s the story of young Calypso (Yasmin Pena) – a mermaid “obsessed with the world above the waves.”

“This is Yasmin’s first show with FVGSS,” said Balser. “We found her in New Westminster Secondary’s production of Legally Blonde.”

New talents are adding an extra zing to the show, Balser said. “This is probably the best junior chorus we’ve had ever, and it’s also musically wonderful – Tim Tucker plays orchestra leader Crab Calloway, which was one of many elements of the original show that were just too good to take out.”

Incurring the wrath of Ursula the octopus, evil ruler of the undersea world (Drew Hart), Calypso falls in love with a human, Prince Airwick-the-Solid, played to the limit with the unerring comedy skills of Jenn Tiles.

“Jenn is one of the most naturally funny people I’ve ever met, Balser said. “She just can’t not be funny.”

Also featured are Shellie the Crab (Rachelle Beaulieau) and Katy Perrywinkle (Paige Thomsen) and the menacing Codfather (played by FVGSS veteran Adrian Duncan).

“He’s a natural to play the role, and as he also plays many instruments, he can accompany himself on mandolin to The Godfather theme,” Balser said.

For tickets, information, visit fvgss.org or call 604-501-5566.

Club 240

Crescent Legion’s Club 240 continues to highlight dance bands in a variety of genres as well as specialty entertainment acts.

Upcoming Semiahmoo Music Consortium Friday night dances (8 p.m.) include The Usual Suspects (Dec. 1), featuring Alex Jackson on sax and vocals, Ray Ayotte on drums, Joe Markovitch on bass and vocals, Jeff Shoub on guitar and vocals and Larry Bloom on keyboards.

Meanwhile the Las Divas Band will play Club 240 Saturday, Dec. 2.

The high-energy, multiple-genre Vancouver-based cover group – a ‘battle of the bands’ winner at Donegal’s Irish House in June – promises “something for music lovers of all tastes, from those who appreciate the twang of Patsy Cline, to those who have completely worn out their copy of Rumours or Abbey Road.”

The venue is at 2643 128 St.

Tickets ($20) are available at the legion or online at www.brownpapertickets.com

For more, call 604-535-1043.

Blue Frog

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at White Rock’s intimate 100-seat concert venue, Blue Frog Studios (1328 Johnston Rd.).

Blending a tribute to a legendary performer with a seasonal concert, Ray Charles’ Spirit of Christmas, with smooth, soulful entertainer Mike Henry, comes to the stage Dec. 1 and 2, with shows at 7 and 9:15 p.m. each night.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, it’s the turn of We Three Queens (show at 7 p.m.), featuring three of Canada’s finest jazz vocalists – Jennifer Scott, Karin Plato and Kate Hammett-Vaughn – in their stylish versions of classic carols from around the world, holiday favourites, and even some original songs (lobby sales of their CD Happy Holiday will go to support the Vancouver Firefighters’ Burn charity).

On Saturday, Dec. 9 (show at 7 p.m.), it’s time for The Blues Songs of Christmas, with Victoria-based Uncle Wiggly’s Hot Shoes Blues Band rounding up Christmas songs written and played by classic blues performers from the 1920s to the 1960s.

And on Saturday, Dec. 16 (8 p.m.) A Very Muddy Christmas Dance will present local favourites the Mud Bay Blues Band’s blend of Chicago Blues, Country, Cajun, Rock and Soul.

For ticket information on all shows, visit bluefrogstudios.ca

Robert Bateman

GS & Company at Semiahmoo Centre will showcase a visit from famed Canadian artist Robert Bateman on Dec. 2.

Bateman, who will be at the store from 3-5 p.m., will be promoting two special book-and-print packages ideal for fans of his realist wildlife art.

The book Robert Bateman’s Canada is available in an $85 version with a Grey Jay print alone, or, for $125, with both the Grey Jay print and a limited-run signed print of Midnight Black Wolf.

In addition, the store will be featuring a 25 per cent discount on all in-stock Bateman prints that day.

For more information, call 604-531-8203.

Traditional jazz

White Rock Traditional Jazz Society continues its regular Sunday 2-5 p.m. sessions of live Dixieland and swing music for dancing at the Crescent Legion Branch’s Club 240 (2643 128 St.).

Next featured bands will be the Square Pegs Jazzy Band (Dec. 3) and ace reedman Gerry Green’s Crescent City Jazzers (Dec. 10).

Admission is $10 at the door (WRTJS members), $12 (non members) and $6 (students with ID).

Pacific Showtime

The Pacific Showtime Men’s Chorus is a male voice harmony group of kindred spirits who love to sing, laugh it up and indulge their hammier instincts in popular annual musical productions, under the guidance of their director, keyboardist, writer and arranger, Jonathan Wiltse.

The group, which rehearses Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Church, 12953 20 Ave., continues to seek new members for subsequent shows in all vocal ranges (lead, tenor, baritone and bass).

Singers are invited to attend rehearsals to check out the group and, hopefully, join in.

For more information on joining Pacific Showtime, call 604-536-5292 or email leighand@shaw.ca

Kwantlen concerts

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s ongoing series of KPU Music Faculty Showcase concerts at the Langley campus all have a White Rock-South Surrey angle.

The season continues Jan. 19 with the internationally-acclaimed Borealis String Quartet (featuring Ocean Park’s Yuel Yawney).

As artists-in-residence, the Borealis will again share their intense style of music-making with their audience.

The season wraps up on March 2 with CDelebration – an eclectic concert combining KPU jazz and classical performers and guests, and celebrating 25 years of music instruction at KPU. The evening will mark the official release of three new CDs, including Sun Songs by bassist (and well-known Semiahmoo Secondary alumnus) Jodi Proznick, and CDs featuring KPU’s Julia Nolan, saxophone, and Jane Hayes, piano (with violinist Joan Blackman and clarinetist Francois Houle).

All concerts are held in the KPU Langley auditorium, 20901 Langley Bypass.

Concerts begin at 7:30 pm.

Handel Society

The Handel Society of Music is celebrating 51 seasons of music this year.

Based in Surrey and White Rock, the non-profit group of singers performs Baroque and other choral compositions with orchestra.

Rehearsals are held Tuesday evenings from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at a new location: Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church, 17473 60 Ave.

For more, call 604-202-7801.