Q&A with Matthew Pauls

Matthew Pauls returns for a fourth year to the SSO’s Messiah performances – based now out of Winnipeg, Matt is returning home not only to sing but be part of our big musical family!

We took some time to ask him for a few of his thoughts on Handel’s Messiah.

How did you discover you wanted to be a singer?

I have always been surrounded by classical music and singing (my dad is a choral conductor), so it was a natural choice. If I had to choose a specific moment, it would probably be when a man from my church approached me in grade 12 and told me that he wanted to give me voice lessons and help me prepare to sing in the Festival. I sang Schubert’s Du bist die Ruh and after that I was hooked!

What’s your favourite part of Messiah?

My favourite part of Messiah that I don’t get to sing as a soloist is one of the choruses that often gets cut – “Let all the angels of God worship him.”

It’s hard to pick a favourite bass aria, but when the tempo is just right, it’s hard to beat “Why do the nations so furiously rage together?”

When was the first time you saw Messiah?

My first opportunity to be an audience member for a performance of Messiah was in 2003, while I was attending university in Winnipeg. By that time I was quite familiar with the work, as I had listened to a number of recordings and performed “Part One” and a few other selections from Messiah as a chorister.

What do you find challenging about singing Handel’s music?

The coloratura sections are quite challenging. But they are loads of fun once you’ve mastered them. It’s also challenging to make each performance fresh and interesting so that so the audience doesn’t tire of hearing the same piece every year.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

Work for perfection in practice sessions and rehearsals; strive to communicate in performance.

Do you get nervous before your performances? If so, how do you calm your nerves?

As long as I have put in enough practice time and prepared well, I don’t get all that nervous. Excited, yes, but not nervous.

How do you prepare for a performance with an orchestra?

Practice, practice, practice…

If you had to convince someone who’s never seen Handel’s Messiah before to come to your performance, what would you say to convince them?

The last chorus alone are worth the price of admission! “Worthy is the Lamb” (with the final “Amen” section) is absolutely glorious! You have to experience it at least once.

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