Anticipating H&H’s 2015 Bicentennial,
Messiah performances will be recorded for release on CORO in October 2014
Rich musical offerings in December also include
family-friendly “Holiday Sing” and intimate Baroque program
October 24, 2013 (Boston, MA)—The Handel and Haydn Society (H&H), led by Artistic Director Harry Christophers, opens a musical celebration of the holiday season with its 160th annual performances of George Frideric Handel’s masterpiece Messiah, November 29–December 1, 2013, at Symphony Hall. The celebration continues with A Bach Christmas, an intimate program of Baroque music; and Holiday Sing, a participatory family program of carols and choral music for the season. Now in his fifth consecutive year leading H&H’s performances of Messiah and carrying this cherished tradition forward, Harry Christophers promises to uncover fresh meaning, drama, and emotion in the work. “Above all, Messiah is an entertainment which, in our performance, will test your emotions and be an inspiration to both performer and listener alike,” he says. “This year we will be performing the work with the added frisson of a live recording.” Four acclaimed soloists, who have given superb performances with H&H in the recent past, return to perform and record the work with Christophers and the H&H Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus: Gillian Keith, soprano; Daniel Taylor, countertenor; Tom Randle, tenor; and Sumner Thompson, baritone.
The history of Messiah in America is inextricably linked to the Handel and Haydn Society: H&H performed selections of Messiah at its first concert in 1815 and gave the American premiere of the entire work in 1818. It began its annual practice of performing the oratorio in 1854, thereby initiating an unparalleled, and unbroken, American musical tradition. Performance styles and ensemble sizes have changed over the years—the H&H amateur chorus numbered more than 600 in the late 19th century, for example, while today it comprises 40 professional singers—but H&H’s commitment to performing this towering oratorio has remained constant. Under Christophers’ direction, Handel and Haydn’s keen, nuanced performances have won glowing reviews.
Composing Messiah in a brief, inspired burst in 1741, Handel premiered the oratorio in Dublin in 1742 to great acclaim. It was performed frequently in his lifetime, and he continued to tweak and rework the composition for the rest of his life. Setting a libretto by his collaborator Charles Jennens that used biblical passages to tell the story of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, Handel originally intended Messiah to be performed at Easter. By the time Handel and Haydn Society brought the work to America, it hadbecome widely associated with the Christmas season.
In anticipation of the institution’s Bicentennial season, these performances of Messiah will be recorded live for release on the CORO label in October of 2014. H&H and CORO launched their first collaboration in 2010 with the release of Mozart’s Mass in C minor, followed in 2011 by Mozart’s Requiem, and in 2012 with Mozart’s Coronation Mass. H&H has expanded their recording catalogue with Haydn, Vol. 1 in September 2013 and a new Christmas album entitled Joy to the World: An American Christmas, released in October 2013.
Juxtaposed with Handel’s grand oratorio, H&H presents an intimate holiday program of choral gems, A Bach Christmas, on December 19 and 22, 2013, at Jordan Hall. Guest conductor Scott Metcalf, Artistic Director of Blue Heron and a specialist in early music, leads a chamber ensemble of the H&H Period Orchestra and Chorus. The program highlights vocal music composed for the Advent season, including works by Johann Sebastian Bach and his relatives, as well as Samuel Scheidt and Michael Praetorius. The centerpiece of the program is J.S. Bach’s Cantata 62, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, which the composer wrote for the first Sunday in Advent in December 1724. In demand as a conductor and violinist with early-music groups across the country, Metcalf makes his debut with H&H in these performances.
On December 14 at Faneuil Hall, Handel and Haydn once again performs the popular Holiday Sing, a participatory program for all ages. H&H Associate Conductor and Chorusmaster John Finney conducts the H&H Chorus and members of the Vocal Apprenticeship Program’s Young Women’s and Young Men’s Choruses in Christmas carols and holiday music. The audience is enthusiastically invited to sing along.
HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY CONCERT INFORMATION
November 29, 2013, 7:30pm at Symphony Hall
November 30, 2013, 3:00pm at Symphony Hall
December 1, 2013, 3:00pm at Symphony Hall
Harry Christophers, conductor
Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus
Gillian Keith, soprano
Daniel Taylor, countertenor
Tom Randle, tenor
Sumner Thompson, baritone
Tickets from $25. See below for purchasing information.
December 14, 2013, 11:00am and 2:00pm at Great Hall, Faneuil Hall
John Finney, conductor
H&H Chorus; Young Women’s and Young Men’s Choruses from H&H’s Vocal Apprenticeship Program
Tickets from $15. See below for purchasing information.
A Bach Christmas
December 19, 2013, 8pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall
December 22, 2013, 3pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall
Scott Metcalfe, conductor
Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus
Martin Luther: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Michael Praetorius: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (from Polyhymnia caduceatrix); Vom Himmel hoch (from Polyhymnia caduceatrix); Puer natus in Bethlehem (from Polyhymnia caduceatrix); In dulci jubilo a8 (from Musae Sioniae)
J.S. Bach: Cantata 62, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
J.C. Bach: Lieber Herr Gott, wecke uns auf
J.L. Bach: Overture from Suite in G Major
J.B. Bach: Suite No. 2 in G Major
Samuel Scheidt: Gelobet seystu Jesu Christ a8
Tickets from $25. See below for purchasing information.
Tickets are available through Handel and Haydn Society (H&H) Box Office: by phone at 617 266 3605; online at handelandhaydn.org; or in person at the Handel and Haydn Society offices, Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston (M–F,10am–6pm). Student rush is available starting 90 minutes before the performance: $15 cash only with valid ID, best available seats subject to availability. Groups of 10 or more receive a 20% discount.
Harry Christophers is in his fifth seaosn as Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society with the 2013–2014 Season. Since his appointment in 2009, Christophers and H&H have embarked on an ambitious artistic journey towards the organisation’s 2015 Bicentennial with a showcase of works premiered in the United States by H&H since 1815, education programming, community outreach activities and partnerships, and the release of a series of recordings on the CORO label. Christophers is known internationally as founder and conductor of the UK-based choir and period instrument ensemble The Sixteen. He has directed The Sixteen throughout Europe, America, and the Far East, gaining a distinguished reputation for his work in Renaissance, baroque, and 20th- and 21st-century music. In 2000, he instituted The Choral Pilgrimage, a tour of British cathedrals from York to Canterbury. He has recorded over 120 titles for which he has won numerous awards, including a Grand Prix du Disque for Handel Messiah, numerous Preise der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics Awards), the coveted Gramophone Award for Early Music, and the prestigious Classical Brit Award (2005) for his disc entitled Renaissance. In 2009 he received one of classical music’s highest accolades, the Classic FM Gramophone Awards Artist of the Year Award; The Sixteen also won the Baroque Vocal Award for Handel Coronation Anthems, a CD that also received a 2010 Grammy Award nomination. Harry Christophers is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Granada Symphony Orchestra and a regular guest conductor with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. In October 2008, Christophers was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Leicester. He is an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford and also of the Royal Welsh Academy for Music and Drama and was awarded a CBE in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Soprano Gillian Keith last performed with the Handel and Haydn Society in Bach St. Matthew Passion in 2012. A past winner of the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Award‚ she made her Royal Opera‚ Covent Garden debut as Zerbinetta in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos and has gone on to repeat the role with great success‚ most recently at the Opera de Oviedo. Other operatic appearances include Tytania in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream‚ also at ROH‚ Nannetta in Falstaff and Pretty Polly in Birtwhistle’s Punch and Judy‚ both for ENO. She has sung Tiny in Britten’s Paul Bunyan for the Bregenz Festival‚ Elmira in Opera North’s Croesus‚ Ginevra in Handel’s Ariodante in Halle‚ The Woodbird in Scottish Opera’s Siegfried and Poppea in Basel and in Boston.
Her concert performances include Mozart’s C Minor Mass in Boston’s Symphony Hall‚ Mahler 8 with the RPO‚ Haydn’s Creation with CBSO‚ B Minor Mass at London’s Barbican Hall and Handel’s Messiah with The Toronto Symphony‚ as well as regular appearances at The Edinburgh Festival‚ under such conductors as Sir John Eliot Gardiner‚ Daniele Gatti‚ Sir Richard Armstrong‚ Peter Schreier‚ Sir Richard Hickox‚ Gianandrea Noseda‚ Harry Christophers and Sir Mark Elder.
Recordings include Handel’s Gloria with Gardiner for Philips and several Bach Cantatas as part of his Bach Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria. She has recorded orchestral songs by Dallapiccola with Gianandrea Noseda with the BBC Philharmonic‚ and most recently the role of Zerbinetta for an upcoming release of Ariadne auf Naxos with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Sir Richard Armstrong‚ both for Chandos. Her recital discs include Debussy: Early Songs for Deux-Elles and Schubert Lieder with fellow Canadian Gerald Finley on Marquis‚ as well as an all Strauss programme with pianist Simon Lepper.
Canadian countertenor Daniel Taylor last performed with the Handel and Haydn Society in Handel Messiah in 2012. An exclusive recording artist for Sony Classical Masterworks, Taylor has made more than 80 recordings, including Bach Cantatas with the English Baroque Soloists/Gardiner (DG ARCHIV), Handel’s Rinaldo (winner Gramophone Award) with Bartoli for the AAM/Hogwood, Sakamoto’s pop-opera Life with the Dalai Lama narrating (SONY) and Bach Cantatas with the Bach Collegium Japan on Suzuki (BIS). Daniel’s debut at Glyndebourne in Handel’s Theodora (recorded for ERATO) was greeted with critical praise and followed on his operatic debut in Jonathan Miller’s production of Rodelinda (for EMI). His North American opera debut came in Handel’s Cesareat the New York Metropolitan Opera.
Recent engagements include debuts with the Dallas Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic, the Madrid National Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. Return engagements include the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, St. Louis Symphony, Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, a European tour with the Academy of Ancient Music, and his solo recital debut in Barcelona at the Palau de la Música. Taylor is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Choir and Orchestra of the Theatre of Early Music, Professor of Voice at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, Professor of Voice at the University of Ottawa, and Artist-in-Residence at Banff Centre for the Performing Arts.
Tenor Tom Randle last performed with the Handel and Haydn Society in Handel Messiah in 2011. He made his début with the English National Opera as Tamino in The Magic Flute and has repeated the role with great success at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Hamburg, New Zealand, and the Covent Garden Festival. Engagements have included Tom Rakewell for the Théâtre des Champs-Elysees, Netherlands Opera, Lausanne and Bordeaux; Benedict for WNO’s Beatrice and Benedict; Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte for Geneva and Brussels Operas; Don Ottavio in Munich and Los Angeles; Pelleas in Paris and London; Idomeneo for Scottish Opera and La Monnaie Brussels; Achilles in Tippett’s King Priam for ENO and the Reisopera, among many others.
Randle is very active in the field of contemporary music with several world premières to his credit, many of which were written especially for him. This includes the role of Dionysus in John Buller’s opera The Bacchae for ENO, the world première of Peter Schat’s opera Symposium for the Netherlands Opera, and the world première of John Taverner’s oratorio The Apocalypse for the BBC Proms. He also created the role of Nunez in Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera The Country of the Blind, written for the 50th Anniversary of the Aldeburgh Festival, and premiered and recorded Penderecki’s oratorio Credo for the Oregon Bach Festival. .
Baritone Sumner Thompson last performed with the Handel and Haydn Society in Handel Messiah in 2012. Thompson is in demand on the concert and opera stage across North America and Europe. He has appeared as a soloist with many leading ensembles including the Britten-Pears Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Boston Early Music Festival, Apollo’s Fire, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Les Boreades de Montreal, Mercury Baroque, Les Voix Baroques, The Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, and Tafelmusik.
Recent and upcoming engagements include Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Handel’s Messiah with Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, Bach’s St. John Passion with Orchestra Iowa and with Switzerland’s Gli Angeli, Britten’s War Requiem with the New England Philharmonic, a return to Early Music Vancouver’s summer festival with Les Voix Baroques, Messiah with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers with the critically acclaimed Green Mountain Project.
Thompson can be heard on the Boston Early Music Festival’s Grammy nominated recording of Lully’s Psyché on the CPO label, and also with Les Voix Baroques on Canticum Canticorum, Carissimi Oratorios, and Humori, all on the ATMA label.
John Finney has been Handel and Haydn Society Chorusmaster since 1990, occupying the Cabot Family Chorusmaster Chair, and was named Associate Conductor in 1992. He has directed many of the Society’s performances, including Handel Messiah at Symphony Hall in 1997 and 2004, and A Bach Christmas at NEC’s Jordan Hall in 2008, 2010, and 2012. He is widely praised for his harpsichord and organ playing; he holds degrees in organ performance from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and The Boston Conservatory. Finney is the Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Boston College, where he serves as Director of the University Chorale and Conductor of the Boston College Symphony Orchestra. He has directed the Boston College Chorale on concert tours in major cities throughout the world, including Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Rome. Finney recently celebrated his 25th anniversary as Director of Music for the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church, where his organ playing and conducting continue to enhance worship services every Sunday morning. Since 1987, he has been conductor of the Heritage Chorale in Framingham, and has led that chorus in performances of such major works as Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Verdi’s Requiem. In May 2012, he led the Heritage Chorale in a performance of Orff’s Carmina Burana featuring the Handel and Haydn Society Youth Chorus. He has served on the faculty of The Boston Conservatory and taught for six years at the Academy for Early Music in Bressanone, Italy.
Scott Metcalfe makes his Handel and Haydn Society debut with A Bach Christmas. Metcalfe has gained wide recognition as one of North America’s leading specialists in music from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries and beyond. Musical and artistic director of Blue Heron since its founding in 1999, he is also music director of New York City’s Green Mountain Project (Jolle Greenleaf, artistic director), whose performances of Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and a “1640” Vespers of Metcalfe’s own devising have been hailed by The New York Times as “quite simply terrific” and by The Boston Globe as “stupendous.” Metcalfe has been a guest director of TENET, Emmanuel Music, The Tudor Choir and Seattle Baroque, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Quire Cleveland, and the Dryden Ensemble, and he conducted Early Music America’s Young Performers Festival Ensemble in its inaugural performance at the 2011 Boston Early Music Festival.
Metcalfe also enjoys a career as a baroque violinist and currently plays with Les Délices , Les Boréades, L’Harmonie des Saisons, and other ensembles in Boston, Montreal, and elsewhere. He teaches vocal ensemble repertoire and performance practice at Boston University and is co-director of BU’s new Center for Early Music Studies. In his spare time he is at work on a new edition of the songs of Gilles Binchois (c. 1400-1460). Metcalfe received a bachelor’s degree in 1985 from Brown University, where he majored in biology, and in 2005 he completed a master’s degree in historical performance practice at Harvard. He lives in Watertown with his family and enjoys biking, hiking, and all sorts of outdoor recreation.
Handel and Haydn Society
Handel and Haydn Society is a professional Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus and an internationally recognized leader in the field of Historically Informed Performance, a revelatory style that uses the instruments and techniques of the composer’s time. Founded in Boston in 1815, H&H is considered the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States and has a longstanding commitment to excellence and innovation: it gave the American premieres of Handel’s Messiah (1818), Haydn’s The Creation (1819), Verdi’s Requiem (1878), and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (1879). H&H will celebrate its 200th anniversary with the 2014–2015 Season.
Handel and Haydn today, under the leadership of Artistic Director Harry Christophers, is committed to its mission to enrich life and influence culture by performing Baroque and Classical music at the highest levels of artistic excellence, and by providing engaging, accessible, and broadly inclusive music education and training activities. H&H is widely known through its local subscription series, tours, concert broadcasts on WGBH/99.5 Classical New England and National Public Radio, and recordings. Its recording of Sir John Tavener’s Lamentations and Praises won a 2003 Grammy Award and two of its recordings, All is Bright and Peace, appeared simultaneously in the top ten on Billboard Magazine’s classical music chart. Since the release of its first collaboration with Harry Christophers on the CORO label in September 2010, it has made available three live commercial recordings of works by Mozart – Mass in C Minor (2010), Requiem (2011), and Coronation Mass (2012) as well as Haydn, Vol. 1 (September 2013) and An American Christmas (October 2013).
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