Choral Director

Grace Congregatioal United Church of Christ, Rutland, VT

"With his third “Messiah,” Alastair Stout has established his own tradition within Grace Congregational Church’s 60-year tradition.

Stout employed the crisp precision of historical accuracy, but delivered the spiritual story
of “Messiah.

Stout’s aim rather than sounding big was to honor Handel’s markings, resulting in clarity and good diction. But the quiet contrasted with the loud for real drama, and built to a glorious sound. From the opening “And the Glory of the Lord” on, the community chorus ultimately sounded rich and full — and inspired.

The orchestra, at 20, smaller than Handel’s original, managed a lightness possible only with good professionals, complementing rather than covering the soloists. Yet it delivered great sound during the glorious sounds.

Adding to Handel’s musical theatricality, Stout added four spry young modern dancers who performed Stefania Nadia’s lyrical choreography down the aisles during some of the bigger choruses. And piper Ellen Green ably introduced the “Pastoral Symphony” with its theme on bagpipes.

Grace Church is right to add its stamp on its “Messiah” performance. Without messing with a note of the masterpiece, Stout has invited new interest in an old tradition — and, with it, delivered the joy.”        

                                                                     Rutland Herald, December, 2019

“…Perhaps the most creative response to COVID-19 came from Grace Congregational Church in Rutland. Rather than cancel its annual and beloved performance of the Christmas portion of “Messiah,” Alastair Stout, minister of music, created a unique recorded multimedia video of Handel’s masterpiece. [Watch the video here].

Solo vocal arias were newly recorded in different parts of the church with the excellent Arka Quartet (aka VSO Juke Box Quartet), while young dancers interpreted choruses recorded in previous years. 

It set off the holidays with a truly joyful experience.”

                                                                    Times-Argus, December 2020

“…Grace Church presented [Benjamin Britten’s] gorgeous 1943 Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op. 31. The audience wasn’t merely receptive, it was enthralled.’

                                                                     Rutland Herald, May 2022

© Alastair Stout 2022