Maui Arts & Entertainment

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ at ʻĪao Theater Dec. 19 & 20

December 9, 2015, 9:00 AM HST
* Updated November 27, 11:01 AM
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Maui Chamber Orchestra director. Maestro Robert E. Wills. Paul Janes-Brown photo.

The Maui Chamber Orchestra and its director, Maestro Robert E. Wills. Paul Janes-Brown photo.

This year, the Maui Chamber Orchestra and Maui Masterworks Chorale director, Maestro Robert E. Wills promises a Handel’s Messiah “you have never heard it before!” The concert will be presented on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec.  20, at 3 p.m. at the Historic ʻĪao Theater in Wailuku.

“The audience will hear Handel’s Messiah as they never have,” said Maestro Wills. “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… 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,” Will said. “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 ʻĪao Theater stage, we needed to shrink our chorale. That was accomplished with auditions and what you have is the best of a truly excellent, community chorus.”

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

Maestro Wills promises the Maui Masterworks Chorale will be back to full strength this summer.

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“That goes for the orchestra as well,” said Wills.” 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.”

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In addition to the orchestra and chorale, Handel wrote great solos. The concert will feature four soloists from Hawai‘i. The men, Jeremy Wong, baritone, and Charles Mukaida, tenor, are both from O‘ahu; the women, Molly Schad, soprano, and Tracy Bloser, alto are from Maui.

Jeremy Wong. Photo provided by Paul Janes-Brown.

Jeremy Wong. Photo courtesy of Maui Chamber Orchestra.

Wong, a conductor and soloist who has appeared on the Mainland, made his European debut in Stuttgart in March with the renowned Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble. This past August, he returned to Germany to perform with the Weimar Bach Cantata Academy. He is a graduate of DePauw University, where he majored in musical arts; he holds a master of music degree in vocal performance from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Tracey Bloser. Photo provided by Paul-Janes Brown.

Tracey Bloser. Photo courtesy of Maui Chamber Orchestra.

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

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

Molly Schad. Photo provided by Paul Janes-Brown.

Molly Schad. Photo courtesy of Maui Chamber Orchestra.

Schad graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in music education. Originally, from Southeastern Pennsylvania, she is the choir director for grades six through 12 at Seabury Hall. She has performed in both MAPAʻs 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,” said Schad. “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.”

Charles Mukaida. Photo provided by Paul Janes-Brown.

Charles Mukaida. Photo courtesy of Maui Chamber Orchestra.

At age 5, Mukaida began singing with the Hawai‘i Youth Opera Chorus, where he participated in many Hawai‘i Opera Theater 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 Hawai‘i.

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

Tickets are available at www.MauiChamberOrchestra.org, at the ʻĪao Theater Box Office Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., or by calling 242-6969.

ʻĪao Theater is located at 68 N. Market St.

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