In the News
Alltop’s choices were consistently imaginative. In every movement, he seemed to find some underlying orchestral figure that could be spun into a characterful shape. This creativity extended to his handling of the chorus. For each entrance in “And with His stripes we are healed,” the conductor had the singers forcefully articulate the first four words, and then fade away for the next three. This was followed by a rendition of “All we like sheep” where the clipped articulation added an air of jauntiness.
~ Chicago Classical Review, Dec. 2018
John von Rhein from the Chicago Tribune has called the performance “Spirited!” and said “The oldest musical organization in Chicago has much to sing ‘hallelujah’ about.” Lin Brehmer from WXRT raved that Apollo’s version of Handel’s “Messiah” is “An afternoon I will cherish long after this holiday season has come and gone.”
~ Chicago Tribune
"Maestro Alltop showed his eighteen years of experience with a sensitivity to the orchestra, the chorus and the soloists. The orchestra is full of top-notch performers who are able to give a full sound with minimal forces. For the full house of orchestra hall, the main attraction was the chorus. The Apollo Chorus features 120 volunteer members that work hard to uphold their status as an iconic Chicago ensemble. The ability of this chorus shows why they are a lasting establishment in Chicago."
~ Chicago Stage Standard Review, 2014
"The Apollo Chorus has been performing Handel's Messiah since 1879 and they have it nailed. Singing through the 53 Bible passages Handel set to a Baroque score 250 years ago, it becomes quickly clear—three numbers in—as the chorus sings its first part, who owns this performance: it's the Apollo Chorus."
~ Buzz News, 2015
"It has a very similar flow to an opera and we try to emphasis dramatic elements of the piece,” says Alltop, when asked how to keep the piece “fresh” after over a century of performances. “To make the best possible connection to the audience, the chorus performs a majority of ‘Messiah’ by heart. And that’s pretty unusual in that it takes a lot of training and preparation to be able to do that. You can get more eye contact and there’s something that in a way, goes beyond what we can describe about how wonderful that is."
~ Chicago Sun - Times Feature, 2014
"This 136th yearly production is more than a holiday tradition, it is a staple. Featuring the over 110 member chorus with baroque orchestra and fou singers, the Messiah roars to the heavens. The Messiah sounds so breathtaking that entering heaven couldn't sound better."
~ Chicago Critic, 2015
"...Alltop's unbroken track record for training his chorus to express such varieties of style and color that it rivals any other in the city."
~ New City Review by Aaron Hunt, 2014
"Apollo made use of their power to fill a massive space without sacrificing nuance."
~ Chicago Critic Review, 2014
"The Apollo Chorus of Chicago sang with precision and conviction, leaning heavily on the Latin consonants in service of Speck’s lively pace in “O Fortuna” and elsewhere."
~ Chicago Classical Review, 2017
"Alltop brings a disciplined, confident brio with a brisk but never hurried pace to the 160-minute work—so many good tidings from 273 years ago. Dressed in black but as colorful as four voices can range, the chorus proved flawless in attack, diction, blend, precision, dynamics, and range, achieving hushed reverence and remorse in “Behold the Lamb of God” and full-throated glory in the “Hallelujah Chorus.” As for the unimprovable orchestra, the “Pastoral Symphony” never sounded so tender or “The Trumpet Shall Sound” more triumphant in its Handelian magnificence. Wonderful turns by concertmaster Jeri-Lou Zike and principal trumpet Chris Hassselbring were manna for the master.""
~ Stage & Cinema, 2013
"The Apollo Chorus—composed of over one hundred auditioned volunteer members—is as professional as they come with their own special flair. It was a pleasure to watch teachers, lawyers, and other “every-day” people come together and create a tear-jerking experience. Listening to the “Hallelujah Chorus” was as invigorating as cheering during the Blackhawks’ National Anthem or looking at fireworks from Navy Pier. It is really something to be part of a tradition that began with King George of England over 250 years ago."
~ Lincoln Park Patch, 2014
"...It is probably clichéd at this point for those who have seen them, particularly in performance of this work, to commend their talent, their effort, and their cohesion in singing, but just because excellence is routine or expected, it should not be taken as commonplace...Apollo deserves a hearty commendation."
~ LASPLASH, 2013