Music Interviews

Messiah In Our Time

By Brian McCreath   |   Friday, December 9, 2011
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George Frederick Handel's Messiah, that musically indispensable part of the Christmas season, wasn't written for Christmas at all.

The manuscript of "Worthy is the Lamb," from Handel's Messiah (source:  Wikimedia Commons)

Messiah, originally written to benefit the Foundling Hospital in Dublin, was premiered in 1742 during the season of Lent, the penitential time of year preceding Easter. 

Handel had more or less invented the oratorio as a way of staging performances at that time of year.  Opera houses were dark for the season, so the oratorio, with the recitatives, arias, and choruses of opera but none of the staging, was a pathway to entertaining, dramatic music and performances ... and the resulting box office receipts.

But not long after that first performance, Messiah found a home during the Christmas season, and it's stayed there almost exclusively ever since.  The Handel and Haydn Society gave the U.S. premiere in 1818, and now Messiah can be found every year in countless performances around the country.

I looked into the Messiah phenomenon with Thomas Forrest Kelly of Harvard University, Handel and Haydn Society Artistic Director Harry Christophers, and Masterworks Chorale Music Director Steven Karidoyanes. To hear the feature, click on "Listen" above.

Here are a few of the performances this season:

Boston Baroque, Dec. 7 & 8

Providence Singers, Dec. 8

Trinity Church, Dec. 9

Masterworks Chorale Sing, Dec. 14 & 15

And here is video from a previous Masterworks Chorale Sing:

Monadnock: Music In The Meeting House (i)

Friday, July 1, 2011
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Monadnock: Music In The Meeting House

Saturday, June 25, 2011
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Classical New England weekly journey to festivals all over New England continues with a trip to the churches and meeting houses of New Hampshire.  The Monadnock Music Festival combines the communitarian ethos of those spaces with stellar acoustics to create unique concert experiences.

Hear the 2012 Monadnock Music Festival episode of New England Summer Festivals

Hear the 2011 Monadnock Music Festival episode of New England Summer Festivals

The 2012 Monadnock Music Festival begins on July 6 and runs through August 11, with new Artistic Director Gil Rose.

Concerts are held in several locations throughout the Monadnock region of New Hampshire.  Our map shows the location of Peterborough, where the festival is based, and where concerts take place in the historic Peterborough Town House.

Other concert venues include the Jaffrey Center Meeting House, the Harrisville Community Church, and Francestown's Old Meeting House.

The Monadnock region is approximately two hours from Boston and offers a wealth of dining and lodging options.

Music lovers travelling through the Monadnock region may also want to visit the famous MacDowell Artist Colony, where countless masterpieces of music, literature, drama, and visual art have been created.  Monadnock State Park offers excellent hiking and other outdoor experiences, and Toadbooks will keep book lovers occupied for hours.

James Bolle founded Monadnock Music in 1966 with a few concerts at the Nelson Meeting House.  Bolle was committed to programming music by American composers, resulting in visits, coachings, and performances with composers such as Aaron Copland, Roger Sessions, John Adams, and many others.


More New England Summer Festivals

Soprano Dawn Upshaw

Friday, April 29, 2011
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Dawn Upshaw is one of the music world's most innovative and inspirational singers.  On Friday, April 29, she'll perform a recital with pianist Stephen Prutsman, presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston. She visited 99.5 All Classical to talk with host Cathy Fuller about the program and her new recording of music by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy.

In 2008 she visited WGBH, and hosts Cathy Fuller and Richard Knisely had the opportunity to talk with her work and the state of classical music in our culture.

Pianist André LaPlante

Thursday, April 28, 2011
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Canadian pianist André Laplante received international attention after winning prizes at the Geneva and Sydney International Piano Competitions, then capturing the silver medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow . Critics have compared him with Ashkenazy, Horowitz and Rudolph Serkin, placing him in the elite circle of virtuoso pianists who do not hesitate to take risks.

In 2005, Mr. Laplante was honored to be named an Officer of the Order of Canada. In that same year, he was awarded the Prix Opus for Best Performer of the Year.  In 1999, he received two Opus Awards for live performances: "Best Concert in Montréal" and "Best Concert in Québec Province." Most recently, in 2010, he received another Prix Opus, this time for Best Concert of the Year.

He joins host Cathy Fuller in the Fraser Performance Studio for a program that includes

J.S. Bach/Ferruccio Busoni - Adagio in A minor

Haydn - Sonata in E-flat, Hob. XVI: 52

Franz Liszt - Sonetto 104 del Petrarca and Après une lecture du Dante, from Years of Pilgrimage, Book II (Italy)

(photo:  Peter Schaaf)

BSO Music Director Search: An Update

Friday, April 22, 2011
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About the Author
Brian McCreath Brian McCreath


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