Classical Concerts

Weilerstein and Barnatan in Concert

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
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Bach 330: the Passions

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
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WCRB continutes a celebration of the 330th anniversary of J.S. Bach's birth with concert performances of the St. Matthew Passion from the Handel and Haydn Society and the St. John Passion from Emmanuel Music.

No composer has had as deep and enduring an effect on music and wider culture than J.S. Bach. Born in the small town of Eisenach in the German region of Thuringia on March 21, 1685, each stage of his life resulted in timeless masterpieces that continue to speak to audiences today. Join us at 99.5 WCRB on Sunday, March 29, to celebrate that legacy with two of Bach's most monumental works of sacred music.

Sunday, March 29, 3pm: The St. Matthew Passion, live with the Handel and Haydn Society

Harry Christophers
WCRB takes you live to Symphony Hall for one of the signature events of the bicentennial season of the Handel and Haydn Society. Artistic Director Harry Christophers leads this pinnacle of Bach's musical achievement, a piece performed for the first time in the U.S. by the Handel and Haydn Society in 1879. Tenor Joshua Ellicott sings the role of the Evangelist, with baritone Roderick Williams in the role of Jesus. Additional soloists include

  • soprano Joélle Harvey,
  • mezzo-soprano Anna Stéphany,
  • tenor Matthew Long, and
  • baritone Sumner Thompson, with
  • the VAP Young Women's and Young Men's Choruses.

See a translation of the St. Matthew Passion


See Harvard University Bach scholar Christoph Wolff's introduction to the St. Matthew Passion:



listen buttonHear a guided tour of the St. Matthew Passion with Harry Christophers on The Bach Hour


Sunday, March 29, 7pm: The St. John Passion, in concert with Emmanuel Music

Ryan TurnerRyan Turner leads the chorus and orchestra of Emmanuel Music in Bach's St. John Passion, with tenor Matthew Anderson in the role of the Evangelist and baritone Dana Whiteside in the role of Jesus. Additional soloists include

  • sopranos Roberta Anderson and Brenna Wells,
  • altos Deborah Rentz-Moore and Krista River,
  • tenors Jonas Budris and Frank Kelley, and
  • bass soloists Bradford Gleim, Mark McSweeney, and Paul Max Tipton.

See a translation of the St. John Passion


Hear a preview of the St. John Passion with Ryan Turner and WCRB's Brian McCreath:


Hugh Wolff and the NEC Philharmonia, in Concert

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
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Hadelich Plays Sibelius

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
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H+H 200th Launches with Fireworks

By Cathy Fuller   |   Thursday, December 4, 2014
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Harry Christophers leads the Handel & Haydn Society in its bicentennial season opening concert, featuring Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks.

To hear the concert, click on "Listen" above.


Harry Christophers and Handel and Haydn Society

Harry Christophers conducts the Handel and Haydn Society on Oct. 10, 2014
(photo by James Doyle, courtesy of H+H)

When the crowd at Symphony Hall jumped to its feet to sing along with the Handel and Haydn Society’s chorus and orchestra, it was a collective goosebump moment at a birthday party that was already full of them. The Society had been looking forward to October 10, 2014 for a long time, counting down to the moment when the trumpets in the balconies would unleash the festivities. Even our microphones had a fabulous time at this party! They caught the fireworks on stage, and the excitement in the audience.

H+H Artistic Director Harry Christophers can pull a phrase of music through time like taffy. And his body can coil and uncoil with upbeats of infinite variety. You’ll hear it in the beginnings of every line in the two Handel Coronation Anthems that were offered.

When the chorus finally exploded in the anthem Zadok the Priest, critic David Wright of the Boston Classical Review thought that it must have loosened the Symphony Hall plaster! In Bach’s intricately woven motet Sing unto the Lord a new song, all of the warmly worked detail came through not just clearly, but with a glow.

Aislinn Nosky

Aisslinn Nosky and the Handel and Haydn Society in concert, Oct. 10, 2014
(photo by James Doyle, courtesy of H+H)

Intimate nuance and crackling fireworks were built into the design of the evening. In the wildness of Vivaldi’s violin concerto “Summer,” the extremes happen so close together that the whole thing comes off as downright hallucinatory.  

Concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky roused the audience to near frenzy with her solos. They even applauded her when she was simply taking her place back in the orchestra!

There’s so much to consider when you’re hearing this concert. Sir John Stevenson’s They play’d, in air the trembling music floats was done by the men’s chorus with organ to amazing effect. It had been performed on the Society’s very first concert in 1815.

When, at the end, Harry Christophers turned to the crowd and signaled for them to rise and sing Handel’s “Hallelujah” from Messiah, there were many who knew by heart every detail of the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass parts. What a joyful sound! 

It reminds us that Boston has a tremendous history of amateur singers coming together to create deeply meaningful music. It’s a history thanks in large part to the Handel and Haydn Society.

To hear the entire H+H bicentennial season opening concert, click on "Listen" above.















Handel's Samson with H+H

By Cathy Fuller   |   Saturday, October 4, 2014
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Harry Christophers leads the chorus and orchestra of the Handel and Haydn Society in Handel's Samson, in concert at Symphony Hall.


To hear the performance click on "Listen" above. Below, Harry Christophers takes you inside the score of "Let the Bright Seraphim," the final aria of Samson.



Congratulations to the Handel and Haydn Society as they mark their 200th year!  The small group of Bostonians who started it all knew how vital great music was to the well-being and civic life of Americans.   And over two centuries, the organization has   developed levels of engagement with the community that keep getting deeper.

One great example comes with the Society’s recent performance of Handel’s oratorio Samson.  He wrote the piece right after finishing Messiah and based it on Milton’s dramatic poem amson Agonistes.  The story’s original source is the Book of Judges, from the Hebrew Bible.  It’s a sad coincidence that Samson, Milton and Handel all became blind in their lifetimes.  The composer manages to weave an affecting string of eclipses and sunrises into the entire work.

Harry Christophers

Harry Christophers conducts the Handel and Haydn Society in Handel's Samson in May 2014.

See a complete slideshow below

Hanging in the corridors of Symphony Hall during the performances of Samson were many unique and wonderful reactions to Handel and the story.  These vivid illustrations were a part of “Project Handel,” which brought H&H musicians along with research fellow Teresa Neff into the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  During their visits, they opened up a dialogue about the creative process, giving students insight into who Handel was and how he approached composition.  And they focused on the story and the music of Samson.

The results are nothing short of breathtaking.  And for me, the immense variety in these artworks reminds us of how very personal the experience of listening to great music really is.  The idea of bringing that musical experience into the visual realm is exciting – and that’s only a small part of the outreach and imagination that has been built into the core of H&H over the last 200 years.

Boston is proud to be the home of the Handel and Haydn Society.  And I hope you’ll be able to experience them in person. 

Enjoy the photographs of many of the young artists whose works were displayed in Symphony Hall.  And enjoy the concert.  I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who loves Handel as much as Harry Christophers, and in his hands Handel is as new as ever.






















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