By Nathaniel Cayanan
‘Tis the season … to be bombarded by advertisements for Christmas-themed productions. Everywhere you look, there seems to be some play, film, or concert that vies for our attention and the task has become finding which shows are worth going to in between the occasional fistfight over presents at the mall. Luckily, one sure show to attend is one of the many by the Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC) who are performing a series of holiday concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall this December.
In fact, this past weekend, the Grammy-nominated chorus performed Messiah, one of George Frideric Handel’s most famous works, with scriptural texts provided by Charles Jennens. The oratorio tells the story of Christ in the three parts, the first about the prophecy and birth of the savior, the second about his sacrificial death, and the third about his glorious resurrection. Adeptly led by conductor Grant Gershon, who also serves as one of LAMC’s Artistic Directors, the chorus, orchestra, and soloists deliver a consistently fine-tuned concert that is deserving of appreciation from even the most seasoned concert goer.
Soloists Hayden Eberhart (soprano), Janelle Destefano (mezzo soprano), Jon Lee Keenan (tenor), and Steve Pence (baritone) all serve up a variety of voices that give eloquent delivery to the recitatives and arias, especially in the second and third parts in which they all belt out some fine singing. Keenan is particularly a delight to watch and listen to, as he exhibits an impressive level of skill and close attention to the lyrics, pronunciation and pitch, mixing innate instinct and carefully crafted artistry.
Complementing these voices is an orchestra that effortlessly plays each movement with incredible precision, which is especially true in the pastoral symphony “Pifa.” In this number, the orchestra plays well enough to give a clear mental picture of serene nature and green mountains that usher in shepherds.
And, of course, the most important part of concert is Handel’s culminating “Hallelujah” chorus, which the LAMC performs beautifully, as they do in pretty much every movement they sing. Even Gershon himself was aware during Sunday night’s performance how much they had perfected the tune, as he nodded his head with a level of well-deserved swagger, as the audience showered the chorus with applause.
It is worth mentioning that the LAMC will be offering a variety of performances for the rest of the year. In fact, in addition to their second performance of Messiah on Dec. 20, LAMC will also conduct a sing-a-long version on Dec. 16.
Overall, with strong soloists, orchestra, and chorus, the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s holiday concerts stand out as a must do this holiday season.
Los Angeles Master Chorale will perform Handel’s Messiah one more time this year at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Ave., Los Angeles, on Dec. 20. Tickets range from $29 to $129. Group rates are available. Children under six not admitted. For tickets and information about Messiah and other concerts, please call (213) 972-7282, or visit www.lamc.org.