A truly special Christmas offering
Sell-out performances of the Bermuda School of Music's (BSM) Christmas concert last weekend further cemented its reputation for excellence.
Faculty member Ryan Ellis directed the festive programme featuring the Bermuda Chamber Choir and Bermuda Chamber Orchestra.
It featured excerpts from Handel's 'Messiah' and much-loved Christmas carols, and was a crowd-pleaser from start to finish.
Indeed, the opening performance on Saturday evening launched the busy Christmas concert season in glorious style, for which the standing ovation at the finale was richly deserved.
'The Messiah' is one of the most popular works in western choral literature.
The music of the so-called Christmas portion, which filled the first half of the programme, is as lovely as it is inspiring, and was beautifully rendered by the choir, orchestra and soloists, of whom visiting artist Patrick Waters was particularly memorable.
His clear, strong voice wrapped itself around the labyrinthine passages of the tenor solos with great clarity, expressiveness, and deceptive ease.
Pleasing, too, as they fulfilled their demanding roles, were Bermuda soloists Mary-Claire Havas (soprano), Ruth Stovell (soprano) and Peter Nash (baritone).
Curious, however, was the fact that people remained seated during the 'Hallelujah' chorus.
It was first performed in London, England in March 1743, when King George II was so moved that he stood throughout its entirety protocol demanded the audience do likewise.
Since then it has been accepted practice for audiences to continue the more than two centuries-old tradition.
Adding to the collectively fine work of the orchestra, which included visiting harpsichordist Laure Morabito Glatard, and the singers, was the ambience of the magnificent Queen's Exhibition Hall itself.
Part of the National Museum of Bermuda, the raw limestone walls, vaulted brickwork ceilings, and superb acoustics of the former powder magazine create a wonderful setting at the best of times, but on this occasion the strategic placement of large white candles in nine-branch, standing candelabra, plus single candles in the wall niches, lifted the ambiance to magical.
In fact, the overall cosy atmosphere and beautiful music provided a perfect counterpoint to the squally, blustery weather outside, into which the capacity audience went uplifted and imbued with the Christmas spirit.
Kudos to the Bermuda School of Music, patron and Honorary German Consul and Bermuda National Museum trustee Jens Alers and executive director of the Bermuda National Museum Edward Harris.
Their partnership ensured a truly special Christmas offering.