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Scholars Baroque and NZbAROK Orchestra are bringing the much-loved Messiah to Waihī. Photo SUPPLIED/EZRA NEWICK

Hallelujah as choir steps back in time

The Waihī War Memorial Hall is being transported back to the 18th century, as an authentic performance of Handel’s Messiah takes to the stage this month. 

Tauranga chamber choir Scholars Baroque Aotearoa and baroque orchestra NZbAROK will perform the sacred work, depicting the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, on November 26 alongside soprano Greta Claringbould, countertenor Coco Diaz, tenor Jeandré le Roux and baritone James Harrison. 

With instruments, pitch and voices all authentic to the Baroque era, the concert promises to be a unique experience, sounding as close to Handel’s original vision as possible. 

The historic instruments, including a baroque trumpet, harpsichord, timpani, and strings, are all tuned to the lower pitch of Handel’s time, creating a fuller, rounder sound than that of modern instruments. 

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“None of it is amplified. So you get to hear right down to almost a whisper, and the softness of some arias, and then building up to the crescendo of soloists and the choir,” chorist Rona Keith said.

“And then when the timpani comes in as well, it’s visceral, it’s actually inside you.”

Messiah is a great place to start for those new to classical music, Rona said, as much of the oft-performed music will already be familiar to listeners. 

“The music’s very relatable. Everybody knows the Hallelujah Chorus,” she said. 

“[And] one of the things the conductor does is dress up as Mr Handel, the composer, and he really gets into it.

“We try to make it something that’s accessible for anybody … but at the same time we’re absolutely serious about the music.” 

DETAILS: Handel’s Messiah, November 26, 2:30pm at the Waihī Memorial Hall. See for more.