Baptist Church, Port Macquarie
Saturday, 17th December 2005

Cantorus performed Handel's 'Messiah' in Port Macquarie on the weekend of 17-18 December.

This weekend music lovers experienced a spectacular production of Handel’s Messiah with a massed choir, Chamber Orchestra and professional soloists. The performances were held on Saturday 17 December at 7pm and Sunday 18 December at 1pm at the Port Macquarie Baptist Church.

This year the massed choir Cantorus was accompanied by a Sydney/Newcastle based Chamber Orchestra and four superb soloists from Sydney and Newcastle. 

The soprano soloist was Narelle Yeo who made her memorable Port Macquarie debut at the recent Gala Night of Song. Narelle recently returned to Australia after training and performing in America for many years and has performed in both the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Town Hall in major performances this year.

The contralto role was performed by Margaret Plummer. Margaret is in her final year at the Sydney Conservatorium studying vocal performance and also has a strong jazz background. She has sung with some great vocal ensembles including a bella a capella and  the Georgian Singers. In 2004 and 2005, Margaret was awarded the Geoffrey Rothwell and Helen Myers Scholarships from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and she was the recipient of the Marja Baudish Encouragement Award in the 2004 Joan Sutherland Vocal Scholarship.
Bass soloist, Christopher Allan is another nationally acclaimed singer who has also performed with Cantorus on several occasions and is a great audience favourite. He has performed widely as a soloist and with the Sydney Philharmonia Choir, The Song Company and Cantillation as well as spending many years as a member of the Opera Australia Chorus.
The final young soloist was tenor, Nathan Gilkes. Nathan recently completed a Bachelor of Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He has performed widely in Sydney with works including: “Messiah”, Vaughn Williams’ Mass in G Minor, Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, Stainer’s Crucifixion, as well as being one of the Sydneian Bach Choir’s resident tenor soloists in their Bach 2010 Cantata project. He also sang the tenor role in a televised performance of spirituals from Tippett’s A Child of our Time with the SBS Youth Orchestra. Nathan is a NIDA graduate in music theatre.

What is it about Messiah that brings people back year after year? The Oratorio was written over 300 years ago in just 24 days, yet it remains one of the most performed and loved pieces of classical music ever.

It may be that the Oratorio form is full of variety. There is a massed choir that performs spectacular choruses such as the unforgettable “Hallelujah!” This contrasts well with the solo parts that are either sung  or performed in recitative, which is almost like a story-telling style. The whole thing is held together with a Baroque orchestra complete with Harpsichord. It is a journey into the past but also living proof that great music lasts forever.

On these occasions the massed choir, Cantorus, under the direction of Robyn Ryan OAM, sounded spectacular, and the performances unforgettable - especially for those who felt inspired to make comments such as those we received after the performances:

Just really was a priceless afternoon.


I had such a great buzz – it was really exciting, I loved every moment.

During Hallelujah I was really emotional – it was a special moment.

 I used all my hankies up in the Hallelujah

When I think you can’t top it  this choir just keeps on getting better.

Messiah was the best ever, congrats.

This is a very professional standard of choral singing.

We usually have to go the city to get this kind of quality and here it is on our doorstep!

Thank you for bringing such fantastic music into our lives. Keep on doing just that.

I’m so glad I said no to another drinks party & came along, I was on a natural high after it.

What great balance – the choir sounds magnificent.

You’ve done it again – another triumph. Absolutely fabulous.

Those singers are extraordinary…wow the soprano sound was amazing when it soared. It was uplifting.

I loved the quiet bits and the parts when there was less sound like not everyone was singing…great contrasts.

Fabulous choir and such wonderfully warm welcoming people.

Amazing standard.  The chorus is great.

It’s usually scary standing in front of  the Basses but yours were terrific. (from one of the soloists)

Incredibly high standard. It’s incredibly polished & the support is good. It’s rare in a town that is not a capital city to get this quality…actually this quality is rare in a capital city. (from a member of the orchestra)

Hastings Choristers welcomes all those who wish to sing at a performance level whether experienced or accomplished.

As a mixed voice SATB choir (Soprano/Alto/Tenor/Bass) there is a place for all voices in CANTORUS. All singers, especially men, are warmly and enthusiastically welcomed to pursue their love of singing at our weekly rehearsals held at MacKillop Senior College Hall, Ocean Drive, Port Macquarie.