VIU students Whitney Williams and Elise Boulanger (from left) will share soloist duties at the Malaspina Choir’s upcoming Sing-along Messiah concert. (Photo courtesy Bernie Boulanger)

Vocalists to make solo debuts at Malaspina Choir’s ‘Messiah’ show

Elise Boulanger and Whitney Williams to share soprano duties at Christmas concert

Elise Boulanger and Whitney Williams have both sung Handel’s Messiah as part of a choir, but now the local sopranos are getting the chance to perform the piece as soloists for the first time.

The duo, both Vancouver Island University students, will be sharing soloing duties at the Malaspina Choir’s eighth annual Sing-along Messiah concert at St. Andrew’s United Church on Sunday, Dec. 10.

“We’re both really excited to get our first shot with some of the solo material,” Williams said, later adding “It’s a cool treat to be able to share it.”

Other guests soloists at the show include alto Julia Morgan, tenor Adam Dyjach and bass Michael MacKinnon. The choir will be accompanied by the Cowichan Consort Orchestra.

Boulager, who lives in Nanaimo, has been with the Malaspina Choir for the past three years, while Cowichan Valley resident Williams sang with the group last school year for a university credit while attending VIU’s Nanaimo campus. She’s now studying in Duncan.

“When she was in the choir I’d always want to stand and sing beside her just because she is a great singer, so it’s nice to be around that,” Boulanger said of Williams.

Both singers see the upcoming concert as an opportunity to be a part of many people’s yuletide routine.

“I feel like it’s become a Christmas tradition… It’s a thing that happens every year and it’s a chance to rejoice and get in the Christmas mood,” Boulanger said of the composition.

“It’s so epic and people have such strong feelings about it and it’s such a tradition for so many people to attend not only the Messiah, but a singalong Messiah is something that a lot of people do with their families,” Williams added.

“So I’m really honoured to be part of that tradition in people’s Christmas season.”

The pair have been rehearsing their parts together. Boulanger said the Messiah can be “tricky” because it contains a lot of quick, wordless vocal flourishes, which means singers “have to have a lot of finesse and control.”

Williams said it’s helpful that they’re each only doing a part of the solo, as it lets them “get our feet wet in terms of doing this big piece.”

She added that the concert will be one of her first big solo performances with a small orchestra and choir behind her.

“It’s also kind of a celebration for me for the end of my school semester as well,” she said.

“So it’ll be a great experience to cap off this semester with a really great performance.”

Boulanger’s seasonal singing continues as she will be accompanying the Tidesmen chorus at two Christmas shows at Nanaimo’s Ecumenical Centre on Friday, Dec. 15 and Knox United Church in Parksville on Saturday, Dec. 16. More information about her activities can be found here.

WHAT’S ON … Malaspina Choir Sing-along Messiah concert comes to St. Andrew’s United Church on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for those under 25, free for children under 12 and $5 eyeGO high school passes are available. Partial proceeds from the concert and sale of $20 Messiah scores will go to Haven Society.

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