LSM Newswire

Friday, April 25, 2008

NACO, May 7-8: Helmuth Rilling leads NAC Orchestra in Mendelssohn's Elijah

Ottawa, Canada Helmuth Rilling will lead the National Arts Centre Orchestra, four soloists and three choirs totaling 150 singers in Mendelssohns mighty oratorio Elijah drama on a truly Biblical scale in Ovation Series concerts on Wednesday, May 7 and Thursday, May 8 at 20:00 in the NACs Southam Hall. It is only the second time in the NAC Orchestras history that it has presented the massive work. It will be performed in German with surtitles in English and French.

There will be Musically Speaking post-concert Talkbacks offered on Southam Hall stage after both concerts with Maestro Helmuth Rilling and chorus master Duain Wolfe.

Elijah remains one of the crowning achievements of the choral literature and is, along with Handels Messiah and Haydns Creation, one of the three most popular oratorios of all time. Garnering deafening applause and calls for encores at its premiere in 1846, the nearly operatic conception of Elijah depicts the struggle of the larger-than-life prophet against false gods and the fiery Jezebel, and amazingly evokes drought, rainstorms and earthquakes, as well as Gods display of power in a column of fire and Elijahs ascent to heaven in a chariot. I picture Elijah, wrote Mendelssohn as a grand and mighty prophet of a kind we would do well to have in our own day powerful, zealous, but also harsh and angry and saturnine; a striking contrast to the court sycophants and the rabble.

Canadian bass Nathan Berg who last performed here in the Verdi Requiem in 2006 and under the direction of Helmuth Rilling in Haydns Creation in 2004 sings the role of the prophet Elijah. American soprano Elizabeth Keusch makes her NAC Orchestra debut as the Widow and an Angel originally written for the famous Swedish Nightingale Jenny Lind. Romanian mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu, also making her NACO debut, is Jezebel and an Angel; and American tenor James Taylor, who performed with Rilling and Berg in Haydns Creation as well as the 2006 presentation of Bachs B-minor Mass, portrays Obadiah and Ahab. The Cantata Singers of Ottawa (Michael Zaugg, director), the Ottawa Choral Society (Matthew Larkin, director) and members of the Ottawa Bach Choir (Lisette Canton) combine for a 150-voice chorus prepared by Duain Wolfe with assistance from Laurence Ewashko.

Stuttgart-born Helmuth Rilling is active as a conductor, pedagogue, and an ambassador for the music of J. S. Bach worldwide. He founded the Gchinger Kantorei in 1954 and 11 years later founded the Bach Collegium Stuttgart. In addition to Bach, he has been a fervent advocate of neglected romantic choral music as well as commissioning and performing contemporary choral music. With his ensembles in Stuttgart or as a guest conductor, Maestro Rilling is active on the international concert podium, performing regularly throughout Europe, US, and Canada. As a testament to his inexhaustible activity are hundreds of CD, radio and TV recordings. He was awarded the UNESCO International Music Prize in 1994 and won a coveted Grammy Award in 2000 for his recording of Krzystof Pendereckis Credo.

Tickets for these Ovation Series concerts on Wednesday, May 7 and Thursday, May 8 at 20:00 are on sale now at $19.00, $29.00, $49.00, $59.00, $69.00 with box seats at $83.00 (GST and Facility Fee included) at the NAC Box Office (Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 21:00), and through Ticketmaster (with surcharges) at 613-755-1111. Ticketmaster may also be accessed through the NACs website at

Half-price tickets for students in all sections of the hall are on sale in person at the NAC Box Office upon presentation of a valid student ID card. Same-day Live Rush tickets (subject to availability) for full-time students (aged 13 to 29) are $10 at the NAC Box Office between 14:00 and 18:00 on the day of performance only, upon presentation of a valid Live Rush card.

Groups of 10 and more save 15% to 20% off the regular price of tickets to NAC Music, Theatre and Dance performances. To reserve your seats call 613-947-7000 ext. 384 or email

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