There are few more enjoyable or stirring ways to mark the start of the Christmas season than with a rousing performance of the ever popular sacred choral work, The Messiah by Handel.
The Marden Singers are currently celebrating their 50 years of preparing and delivering beautiful classical choral and operatic music for the public to enjoy.
Their final performance of 2013, for the 38th consecutive year, was The Messiah which, as always, attracted large audiences who were uplifted and moved by this amazing work. Traditionally performed all over the world at Christmas time, by tens of thousands of choirs globally, to celebrate the birth of Christ and re-tell the age old story that is the foundation of Christianity.
A classical choir which performs primarily sacred works, and from time to time also presents opera, The Marden Singers was founded half a century ago by musician, soprano and music teacher Margot Dennis.
This energetic leading light in our very active world of classical music still directs the choir today.
Margot’s dedicated and tireless contribution through her lifetime to this country’s musical arena, and to the nurturing of tomorrow’s budding voices and instrumentalists, is extensive and credit-worthy.
This year’s stirring Messiah performances showcased some of the country’s best soloists, whether well established or just starting out in promising singing careers, as well as demonstrating the proficiency and discipline of this long-standing choir.
Held in the Arundel School Chapel, the 38th edition of the choir’s performance of this challenging work attracted a large number of keen choristers in addition to the Mardens regulars, some of whom have been with the choir for decades and sung this work countless times.
Choral music genre is popular in Zimbabwe
For choristers and audience alike, the magnificent Messiah can never grow stale and is an annual musical and spiritual treat to be relished and savoured.
The work is moving and thought-provoking, making the spine tingle with its powerful messages, depth of emotion and expression, and the beauty of these age old words and brilliant musical composition. It is challenging to learn and the intensive rehearsal schedule is short and demanding, yet very rewarding for the choristers. Old timers give confidence to newcomers at their sides and it all comes together quite quickly. Then it is time for expert fine-tuning and perfecting under Margot’s sharp eyes and ears which miss nothing — until she is satisfied that the delivery will be right up to the standard expected of the Marden Singers.
Along with the Mardens’ 50th anniversary and 38th Messiah performance, this year was special in another way; the third generation of the Dennis family made its solo debut in the Messiah, in the person of Margot’s young grandson Sebastiao Ribeiro, who confidently sang next to his mum, Margot’s daughter Roz Ribeiro, showing that his delightful, crystal clear voice will continue showcasing the family’s musical talent.
A number of other new soloists delivered excellent performances too, along with some regular voices always enjoyed by audiences. Guest soloists from South Africa, Tomas Erlank and Minette Du-Toit Pearce were a delight to hear as well, and they held an inspiring Master Class during their stay. The choir was expertly accompanied by pianist Carolyn Peto with the Harare Chamber Orchestra. Other soloists were Caroline Colahan, Robin Cowper, Peter Hadingham, Motohiro Ishida, Shirley Warrington and Colette Kirk.
Given our country’s history through the existence of the Marden Singers, their continued presence and quality performances are a great credit to the indefatigable Margot Dennis, who has been bringing classical and operatic works to the music loving public for over five decades, through many challenging times.
Choral music is very popular in Zimbabwe whether as a chorister in one of the many active and energetic choirs nationwide, or as one who comes to listen to their performances.
Audiences were sizeable and appreciative and enjoyed a convivial atmosphere with the singers and musicians after the performances in the school hall, with wines and cheeses donated by generous sponsors and snacks prepared by choir members. Long may the annual Mardens’ tradition of The Messiah continue — and congratulations to Margot and all choristers, musicians, soloists and others involved.