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Concert promises a new take on Handel’s ‘Messiah’

By Staff | Dec 3, 2015

Clockwise from top left, singers Jeremy Wong, Charles Mukaida, Tracey Bloser and Molly Schad will perform during the concert.

WAILUKU – If it’s Christmas, it must be time for Handel’s “Messiah.” Ho-hum… we’ve heard it so many times, but Maui Chamber Orchestra and Maui Masterworks Chorale Director Robert E. Wills promised, “You have never heard it before!”

Maestro Wills said that when the concert begins at 7 p.m. on Dec. 19 and 3 p.m. on Dec. 20 at the historic Iao Theater in Wailuku, “The audience will hear Handel’s ‘Messiah’ as they never have. Why? Because every time you have heard this piece, I guarantee, the chorus has been made up of at least 60 and up to hundreds, right? Kind of like an SUV up to tractor trailer.

“The Maui Masterworks Chorale will be more like a Maserati or a Ferrari – small, quick, nimble and classy. Because we can only seat 36 singers on the stage, I had to reconstitute the chorale. It was a painful thing to do, but unless we could magically add about 1,000 to 1,500 square feet to the Iao Theater stage, we needed to shrink our chorale,” he continued.

“That was accomplished with auditions, and what you have is the best of a truly excellent community chorus.” Wills said the Maui Masterworks Chorale will be back to full strength this summer.

Maestro Wills said, “What the audience will experience is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ the way it was meant to be heard. This size chorus allows me to create tempi and dynamics that a larger group of singers cannot.

“That goes for the orchestra as well. The ‘Messiah’ is a chamber orchestra piece, not a symphony work. This work was truly written for us, and I guarantee the Maui audience, which knows and appreciates excellence, will be impressed.”

In addition to the orchestra and chorale, Handel wrote great solos. The concert will feature two imports and two of our own. The men, Jeremy Wong (baritone) and Charles Mukaida (tenor) are both from Oahu, and the women, Molly Schad (soprano) and Tracey Bloser (alto), are Mauians.

Wong is a conductor and soloist who has appeared on the Mainland, and in March made his European debut in Stuttgart with the renowned Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble. This past August, he returned to Germany to perform with the Weimar Bach Cantata Academy.

Bloser is currently on the faculty at Maui Music Mission in Lahaina, co-leading the Keiki Choral Program “Voice-Everybody Sing!” She received her undergraduate degree in voice from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and her Master of Music in Voice from The Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, CT.

She became a founding member of Hartford Opera Theater, performing and producing opera theater on the East Coast. Some of her favorite roles are Satania in “Sleeping Beauty,” Tom in “Tom Sawyer,” Hansel in “Hansel and Gretel” and Miss Todd in “The Old Maid and the Thief.”

“I am thrilled to be living and working in Hawaii and contributing to the growing music scene,” said Bloser.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Schad is the choir director for grades 6-12 at Seabury Hall. She has performed in the MAPA productions of “Miss Saigon” and “Evita.” While in college she appeared in featured roles in “Le Nozze de Figaro,” “Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Cosi Fan Tutte.”

“I grew up listening to a recording of the ‘Messiah’ and have been attending community ‘Messiah’ sing-ins for a number of years. However, this is the first time I have the opportunity to rehearse, prepare and perform this extraordinary work. Getting to dig into this material as a chorister and soloist under the direction of Maestro Wills has been such a treat for me as a musician,” said Schad.

Mukaida began singing with the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus at five, where he participated in many Hawaii Opera Theater (HOT) productions. He transitioned into HOT where he performed Amahl in “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and the Shepherd in “Elijah.” In addition to opera, Mukaida has moved into musicals as well. He is currently a junior in the Music Department at the University of Hawaii.

Maestro Wills will lead a conversation with the composer at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday only.

Tickets are available at www.MauiChamberOrchestra.org or at the Iao Theater Box Office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; call 242-6969.