Monday, December 7, 2015

Making the Case for Scaglione

Photo of CASE SCAGLIONE by Christian Steiner
I have just finished two nights of Messiah - yup - 'tis the season.   Our conductor was Case Scaglione.  I was singing it with the Mennonite Festival Chorus and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.   This was not our most inspired Messiah - that belonging to Ivars Taurins, and perhaps not the most strange and interesting interpretation - that was Noel Edison but neither was it lacking in charm.
It may have appeared slightly lacklustre as the orchestra was clearly void of most of its principal players and it seemed rather obviously so at the first two rehearsal. Adding to the less than stellar rehearsals was the Maestro's laryngitis which left him unable to make any demands on us. 

In spite of this I enjoyed the process because he was a very generous soul, conducting a good beat but never over conducting leaving soloists, players and choristers somewhat free.  He didn't make strong demands on diction but he strongly favoured legato singing and asked for it in places not usually required.  (Let us break their bonds, With his stripes, Amen, and others)  He blew us kisses from the podium and was generally kind with his praise.  He wanted more from the alto section and the powers that be should perhaps consider auditioning more singers for our section.

A distinguishing feature of his Messiah was, that he laid down his baton for the "And with his stripes" and conducted the choir bare handed and required no orchestra whatsoever.  Something he witnessed Sir Colin Davis doing in London.  A Capella singing in a concert hall is a rare event and I hope we pulled it off.  There was no critic, unless I count my husband, in attendance so no review in our local paper therefore not sure what the audience made of this feature. 

Although some may feel bored by performing Handel's Messiah every year, I feel lucky to be able to sing this great work under various batons and getting something new out of it each time.