2023 Christmas Festival – 10th December 2023

Handel’s Messiah at Tweed Heads
By Madeleine Murray – published in Tweed Valley Way Thursday 07/12/2023

THE NORTHERN RIVERS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (NRSO) will be performing selections from Handel’s Messiah, and community carols on Sunday December 10 at
the Tweed Heads Civic Centre.

The NRSO ensemble will be joined by the Coolamon Singers, all under the baton of dynamic conductor Marco Bellasi.

As well as being a surfer and partner of the brilliant local pianist Ayesha Gough, Marco is an orchestral and choir conductor, a violinist, a composer and a bass baritone singer. Ayesha will be playing harpsichord on Sunday.

Marco grew up in Milan where his Australian mother was a soprano in the Teatro Alla Scala. He brings a depth of historical and musical knowledge to his work, and spoke to The Weekly about Handel’s Messiah.

“My earliest contact with the Messiah was singing the Hallelujah chorus as an alto when I was attending middle school at the Conservatoire Giuseppe Verdi of Milan,” he said. “The Hallelujah chorus is an ideal piece to sing or play as a young boy because it is a great example of musical counterpoint – it communicates beauty and musical discipline together.

“Counterpoint is a way to scientifically organise music and tunes. Two or more different lines of music can be heard simultaneously and yet create perfect harmony because of mathematical rules which govern the technique of counterpoint.

“Musical invention in the Messiah is balanced with rationality and high-level musical craft often in the Italian Baroque opera style. Handel’s English oratorios such as the Messiah directly descend from Handel’s reworking of the Italian opera schemata.

“Handel writes for voice in a that way few composers in the history of music have ever matched. This can be heard in the alto aria in part 2 ‘He was despised and rejected of men’, which in my view is the pulsating heart of the Messiah.”

This aria will be sung by local contralto Susan Gallagher. The other soloists are basses Ian Holston, and Thomas Lawson, tenor Michael Sanders, alto Anne Stevens, and sopranos Deirdre Pullen and Patricia Bellasi.

“The Messiah is one of the greatest creations of music,” Marco said. “The positivity ultimately unleashed from Jesus’ resurrection, and ascension fill us with optimism. This is especially poignant today when we seem to have lost a positive attitude to society and the future.”

Students from local Tweed schools will be playing in the orchestra for the community carols.

Christmas Festival is on at 2:30pm (1:30 QLD time) on Sunday December 10 at the Tweed Heads Civic Centre, Brett St, Tweed Heads. For tickets go to nrso.com.au, or Murwillumbah Music. Tickets at the door if not sold out.