Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Handel's Messiah

Tuesday 8 December 2015, 7:30 pm
Dunedin Town Hall

Conductor: David Burchell

Emma Fraser soprano, Wendy Dawn Thompson mezzo-soprano
David Hamilton tenor, Martin Snell bass
City Choir Dunedin
Southern Sinfonia

Messiah is heard around the world during the Christmas season, being greatly appreciated, admired and enjoyed. City Choir Dunedin with the Southern Sinfonia, conducted by David Burchell, is pleased to again perform this oratorio. We welcome home soprano Emma Fraser and together with mezzo Wendy Dawn Thompson, tenor David Hamilton and bass Martin Snell, we will provide a fantastic opportunity for you to experience a world-class delivery of this dramatic and passionate work.

Handel began composing Messiah on August 22, 1741, and completed it twenty-four days later. The scholar Clifford Bartlett writes that “such speed was not unusual, nor was the time of year. Not much happened in London during the summer, so it was a good time to get ahead with the preparation for the next season . . . Bach could produce a cantata, organizing the copying of parts, and rehearse and perform it every week: Three weeks to compose an oratorio without the immediate responsibility for organizing the performance was, therefore, ample. But, however hasty the composition, the power of the musical imagination, the wealth of ideas, the depth of inspiration, and the sheer variety of invention continue to astonish.” 

Messiah is unique among Handel's oratorios in its New Testament subject and reflective treatment. It has been described as a 'collection' taken from the Bible and the Prayer Book Psalter, and is a mixture of narrative and commentary. This freed Handel from some of the more restrictive opera conventions and permitted greater use of the chorus than is generally the case in his other oratorios. Messiah is probably Handel's most famous work and its ubiquity has outreached anything Handel could ever have envisaged.

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