By Kathryn-Jane Hazel
Special to the News Bulletin
Nanaimo music lovers are in for a momentous musical experience on May 4 when the combined Malaspina and Cowichan Consort choirs perform Verdi’s celebrated Requiem.
It’s not just that there will be more than 100 choristers and the Cowichan Consort’s 50-piece orchestra on stage for the performance, or that it is the Nanaimo premiere of this monumental, imaginative and powerfully theatrical work, conducted by Cowichan Consort’s dynamic musical director, Robert Mari.
In addition to all this, the concert will feature four world-class Canadian soloists who regularly sing at sold-out performances throughout the world, thrilling audiences with their musical bravura.
Internationally renowned tenor Benjamin Butterfield has been praised by the New York Times as “clarion-voiced and vibrant.” He has sung in operas, concerts and recitals throughout North America and Europe, performing with the world’s finest ensembles and conductors.
Baritone Gary Relyea is renowned for the richness of his voice and has performed in opera companies throughout the world and across Canada, singing major choral works from Britten’s War Requiem and Handel’s Messiah to Mozart’s Requiem and Wagner’s Flying Dutchman.
Mezzo-soprano Anne Relyea has sung with several Canadian orchestras and choral groups and performed in many recitals, community concert series and music festivals in a duo with her husband, and performed with the Canadian Opera Company and for both CBC television and radio specials.
Soprano Betty Allison has a special Island connection, having grown up on a farm on Code Road and attended North Oyster Elementary School and Ladysmith High School before studying music and education at the University of Victoria.
Her powerful voice has impressed audiences in Canada, the U.S. and Italy. She has performed a wide range of operatic roles with the Canadian Opera Company as well as singing such works as Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Mozart’s Requiem on concert stages across Canada.
These singers draw crowds. When Gary Relyea performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah for the Cowichan Consort it was sold out. When he sang Mozart’s Requiem the venue was filled 25 minutes before the concert started.
WHAT’S ON … The Malaspina and Cowichan Consort choirs perform at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Friday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for those over 25, $10 for those under 25, children under 12 are free and $5 eyeGO passes are available at the Port Theatre box office or at the door.