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Opera Brava Present
"Messiah" An Easter Blessing
An Oratorio for Easter 2021

Nigel Short: Conductor

Nigel
Nigel Short

Why did you choose to be involved with An Easter Blessing?
After sitting at home since March 2020 with little or no music-making for the vast majority of that time, I was simply delighted to be asked to get involved in this project. The decision to say yes was a quick and easy one but, of course, I then became excited about the positive effects this project could bring to people struggling at home, both spiritually and psychologically.
After a prolonged period of isolation in the darker months owing to lockdown 3 followed by 7 weeks of Lent, a time for reflection and abstinence, I could easily see how joyful an experience we could make this Easter Blessing for people to watch and listen to on Easter Day. The ultimate message of hope - I know that my Redeemer liveth - seemed more important and relevant than ever to impart to those who have been worried and stressed by the effects of the last 13 months.


What does Easter mean to you?
Easter, as opposed to Lent - is always a time for rejoicing, and I normally try to get to hear a performance of Messiah if one is ever going on at this time of the year. We know everyone sings this amazing work at Christmas but for me, Easter is the time when it most makes sense and carries the extra poignancy of its messages of hope and peace.


What do you feel hopeful about as you look ahead to the next few months?
I am hopeful about people being able to go about their daily lives again without stress and worry. It will be wonderful to hear and see people again and to make beautiful music again with them.

Martin Rendle: Tenor

Martin
Martin Rendle

Why did you choose to be involved with An Easter Blessing?
It’s really great to be part of Opera Brava’s ‘An Easter Blessing’, and I am so thankful to be able to share in this performance of pieces from Handel’s Messiah. ‘Messiah’ contains such powerful and inspirational music. It was one of my first professional solo gigs, around thirty years ago, and is a work that I have had the pleasure to revisit on numerous occasions.


What do you feel hopeful about as you look ahead to the next few months?
As a singer, and in common with musicians everywhere, I have missed the opportunity to perform and the pleasure that it brings. This time last year I became quite ill with Covid-19 and it took me several weeks to fully recover. Throughout the year I have managed to retain some teaching work, and have kept my choirs busy with singing activities through video and audio recordings and small socially distanced gatherings outdoors. It is clear that singing together is such an important activity for peoples’ health and well-being, and everyone is looking forward to the time when we can come together again to share the experience of music-making.


On a personal level, I am looking forward to returning to conducting my choirs in rehearsal and concert, singing in Opera Brava’s summer tour and hopefully the eventual return to the company’s education work in schools.

Jo Appleby: Soprano

Jo
Jo Appleby

Why did you choose to be part of An Easter Blessing?
I chose to be part of An Easter Blessing because it was a wonderful opportunity to sing beautiful music after a long period of being unable to join with others to do so. It was such a joy to sing and share “I know my Redeemer liveth” with others. It was nourishment for the soul!


What do you feel hopeful about as you look ahead to the next few months?
Easter to me, means a new beginning. The garden begins to wake up and sun begins to shine more frequently. It’s a time to look forward with hope and plan for the future. Also it is a time to be grateful for all we have. I feel hopeful for us all being able to enjoy more freedom and to see and hug loved ones soon.

Sam Lewis: Trumpet

Sam
Sam Lewis

Why did you choose to be involved with An Easter Blessing?
Performing Messiah is usually one of the highlights of my year and, coincidentally, was the last piece I performed before the lockdown in March 2020. I have been extremely grateful for the few live performances I’ve been involved in since then, but most of my performing life over the last year has been restricted to recording at home, without the usual thrill of working alongside fellow musicians. Being invited to play with talented friends and colleagues again for this Easter Blessing, the majority of whom I hadn’t seen for over a year except in video calls, was too good an opportunity to miss!


What does Easter mean to you?
As Christians, Easter for me and my wife usually revolves around services at our church where we remember anew the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for us. We’re also hoping that we will be able to visit our parents in their gardens for the first time since October!


What do you feel hopeful about as you look ahead to the next few months?
Moving into our first home, seeing family and friends again, and the prospect of being able to make more live music once venues are able to reopen to audiences!

Dominic Walsh: Tenor

Dominic
Dominic Walsh

Why did you choose to be involved with An Easter Blessing?
Musical performances are now almost extinct. As with the scientist who rediscovered the Blue Whale, this performance arose from the depths of lockdown and burst forth with its joy, peace and hope. I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to sing together and make music with incredibly talented people.


What does Easter mean to you?
Easter has always been a time for reflection. Unfortunately, we have already had far too much reflecting time, and a truly awful time to reflect upon. Even in these dark times, we can bring hope through music, helping others and practising patient understanding.


What do you feel hopeful about as you look ahead to the next few months?
May the summer arrive with warmth, not only through sunshine but through smiles of those who open their doors and embrace the world with a fresh and renewed appreciation and gratitude. Many things that were once taken for granted, will be savoured, relished and luxuriated in, especially live music and performances!

Ilid Jones: Oboe

Ilid
Ilid Jones

Why did you choose to be involved with An Easter Blessing?
I love the Messiah - it is always a joy to play it, especially now after weeks of not being involved in live performances


What does Easter mean to you?
A time to spend with family and reflect on the true meaning of the holiday.


What do you feel hopeful about as you look ahead to the next few months?
Meeting friends and family after a long wait. A return to performing and hoping for good health.

Cast & Credits

Messiah
G.F.Handel

Scripture - Romans 8 v22-25

Comfort ye my people - Isaiah 40 v1-3

Ev'ry valley shall be exalted - Isaiah 40 v4

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion - Isaiah 40 v9

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth - Isaiah 60 v2-3

The people that walked in darkness - Isaiah 9 v2

Scripture - Luke 2 v1-5

There were shepherds abiding in the field - Luke 2 v8

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them - Luke 2 v8

And the angel said unto them - Luke 2 v10-11

And suddenly there was with the angel - Luke 2 v13

Glory to God - Luke 2 v14 

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion - Zechariah 9 v9-10 

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd - Isaiah 40 v11

Come unto Him - Matthew 11 v28-29 

He was despised - Isaiah 53 v3 

Thy rebuke hath broken His heart - Psalm 69 v20

Behold, and see if there be any sorrow - Lamentations 1 v12

He was cut out of the land of the living - Isaiah 53 v8

But thou didst not leave his soul in hell - Psalm 16 v10 

Scripture - Matthew 28 v18-20 

How beautiful are the feet - Romans 10 v15 

Scripture - Psalm 2 v10-12
 
Why do the nations - Psalm 2 v1-2 

Scripture - Revelation 21 v1-5

Hallelujah - Revelation 19 v6

I know that my redeemer liveth - Job 19 v25-26

The trumpet shall sound - 1 Corinthians 15 v52-53

Worthy is the lamb that was slain - Revelation 5 v12-13



Artistic Director
Bronek Pomorski
Guest Conductor
Nigel Short
Film Director and Editor
Suzanne Gielgud
Lighting Designer
Joseph Edwards
Camera Operators
Suzanne Gielgud
Joseph Edwards
Lucy Creamer
Amelia Chisholm
Scarlett Gielgud
Sound recordist and Sound Mixer
Neil Costello
Technical manager
David Rogers
Scripture Reading
Bronek Pomorski
Sopranos
Jo Appleby
Amanda Buckland
Katherine Blumenthal
Persha Darling
Mezzo sopranos
Alison Dunne
Mae Heydorn
Anna Loveday
Tenors
Dominic Walsh
Martin Rendle
Roger Paterson
Baritones
Robert Davies
Håkan Vramsmo
Bass
Aidan Smith

Musicians

Violin Leader
Nicola Bates
Violin
Rose Hinton
Viola
Becky Hopkin
Cello
Jonathan Ayling
Oboes
Ilid Jones
Lauren Weavers
Bassoon
Luke Tucker
Trumpets
Stephen Peneycad
Sam Lewis
Chamber Organist
Richard Jenkinson

Special Thanks

Father Michael Maine:
Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield

The Cultural Recovery Fund & Arts Council England

Kerry Jones:
Sea Blue Digital Marketing

Nick Lightbody: Web-site
Deskspace Corporation Limited

Ensemble Arrangements:
Pocket Publications

Edwards Films:
Cameras and Lighting Hire