October 25, 2011
By Marilyn Reesor – Special to The Examiner
“Rejoice, resound with joy!”
This bit of text, a portion of Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate, is exquisitely apt, for Hi-Way Pentecostal Church did indeed “resound with joy” in glorious fashion on Saturday evening when Pax Christi Chorale took to the stage at the invitation of Barrie Concerts.
The vastly experienced oratorio choir of 100 voices is celebrating its 25th exciting season after its inception within the Mennonite community in 1987.
A very popular and widely respected chorus, it has since blossomed to embrace singers of many faith traditions and performs under the expert direction of award-winning conductor and composer Stephanie Martin, accompanied by a full chamber orchestra.
Saturday evening’s sold-out concert featured works of Mozart, as well as Antonio Salieri’s rarely heard Mass in D Major, and highlighted four vocal soloists of exceptional calibre: soprano Melanie Conly; mezzo soprano Nina Scott-Stoddart ; tenor Graham Thomson; and baritone Benjamin Covey.
Pax Christi Chorale is described as a group which “shares a love of great choral singing” and does so with “passion, conviction and heart.”
From the deeply fervent Kyrie of the Salieri mass to Mozart’s dramatically intense Regina Coeli, the chorus proved itself to be worthy of such praise.
As voices soared and diminished, seamlessly weaving through intricate contrapuntal passages then rising together in magnificent harmonies, this shared, great love of choral singing encompassed all who were privileged to be present.
Melanie Conly, an established and renowned soprano, delivered a superbly expressive performance of Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate.
Sweet and articulate, her cheerful demeanour belied the fact she was displaying an incredible range of technical vocal skills, particularly during the Alleluia, which moved the audience to a burst of enthusiastic and prolonged applause.
The evening was rounded off by a rousing and confident rendition of the aforementioned Regina Coeli by Mozart, led by assistant conductor Daniel Norman. Also worthy of note is the brilliant and dynamic support of the instrumentalists throughout the program.
Fans of Pax Christi Chorale, both new and old, can find this excellent musical group on the weekend of Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 at Grace Church-on-the-Hill in Toronto.
They will be performing their Christmas concert, which features carols and motets, and will also present a world premiere of a new composition by Stephanie Martin.