Superb recital as Sinfonia de l’Ouest performs at St. James

Maestro Stewart Grant conducting the Sinfonia de l’ouest, the Lakeshore Community Choir and members of our community in the singing of the “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah in concert at St. James Anglican Church on Sunday, December 1. (The Leader/Gibb photo)
Maestro Stewart Grant and soprano Kerry-Anne Kutz, following the superb symphony concert on December 1, which played to a packed house at St. James Anglican Church. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

MORRISBURG – “Music is magic,” said Isabelle Delage as she introduced the Sinfonia de l’Ouest to a packed house at St. James Anglican Church, Morrisburg, on Sunday, December 1.

She was right.

For two hours, under the direction of Maestro Stewart Grant, the Sinfonia de l’Ouest, a new chamber orchestra based in the West Island area of Montreal, treated the audience to a program of extraordinary classical music in the spirit of Christmas. Fittingly, the gala occasion was called A Classical Christmas.

Joining the Orchestra for this Morrisburg concert was internationally renowned soprano Kerry-Anne Kutz. In the course of the program she performed Mozart’s “Exsultate Jubilate” and “He Shall Feed His Flock” from The Messiah to loud applause and cheers.

The Sinfonia (First Violin, 24-year-old Sofia Yatsyuk) is built around a string orchestra of 14 adult players, to which other string, woodwind, brass, percussion and keyboard players can be added. On Sunday, the Orchestra’s program included a beautiful rendition of Corelli’s baroque “Christmas Concerto,” as well as the Overture to The Messiah. The musicians also performed two exciting new modern pieces by Leo Purich, “Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind” and “Christmas is Come.” To the delight and applause of the crowd, Grant introduced the young composer, who was sitting in the audience.

The 20 voice Lakeshore Community Choir (which is directed by Kerry-Anne Kutz) joined the Sinfonia for the second half of the program. They sang, among other pieces, Praetorius’ “Es is en Ros’ entsprungen,” and Polley’s “Spirit of the Christmas Tree,” setting a true festive mood.

One of the high points of the Concert was the moment that several members of this community, among them some Seaway Valley Singers, gathered at the front of the Church to join in the “Hallelujah” chorus.

This South Dundas group of music lovers had been practicing for this opportunity for a few weeks. Following an earlier rehearsal with the Maestro Grant and the full orchestra, they joined the Lakeshore Community Choir and filled the church with the sounds of one of the best loved of Handel’s works.

The afternoon concert concluded with an invitation to the audience to join in singing some of the carols of the season, which they did with enthusiasm.

The musicians who presented this impressive concert richly deserved the standing ovation the audience gave them.

Isabelle Delage pointed out that the proceeds from this special Morrisburg performance are all going to Community Food Share and to other charities in our own community. She thanked all the volunteers who had done so much to bring the Sinfonia de l’Ouest, Kerry-Anne Kutz and The Lakeshore Community Choir to South Dundas.

“We hope to keep this tradition of bringing symphony orchestras to our community going for many years to come.”

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