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Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 8pm
Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 3pm
NEC’s Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
Subscriptions and single tickets may be purchased through the Handel and Haydn (H&H) Box Office by phone at 617 266 3605, online at handelandhaydn.org, or in person at the Handel and Haydn office, Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston (M–F, 10am–6pm). Single tickets range from $20 to $78. Student rush is available starting one hour before the performance: $15 cash only with valid ID, best available seats subject to availability. Groups of 10 or more receive a 20% discount.
Associate Conductor and chorusmaster John Finney returns to once again lead Handel and Haydn Society in a holiday celebration of Bach’s music. The Christmas Oratorio continues Handel and Haydn’s holiday tradition of bringing the finest gems by Bach following the annual performances of Messiah. The Boston Globe described the 2011 Bach holiday concert as “a whirlwind sleigh ride that even Santa might envy” and in 2010 pronounced that “the music of Johann Sebastian Bach is nearly as crucial to Christmas as Santa Claus, Salvation Army bell-ringers, and eggnog.”
Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was composed by Bach for the six feast days of Christmas in 1734–1735 (as the Christmas holiday began in December 1734 and ended in January 1735). Each of the cantatas were written to represent a specific story. The concert will feature Cantatas I, II, and VI. Cantata I relates the story of the birth of Jesus, Cantata II tells of the annunciation to the shepherds, and Cantata IV the adoration of the Magi. The instrumentation for each cantata differs slightly to reflect the nature of that cantata. The first cantata includes trumpets to represent the joyful arrival of Jesus, while Cantata II includes the softer oboes to reflect the shepherds’ pastoral life.
“Bach’s music personifies all the moods of the holiday season better than almost any other Baroque composer. His writing for trumpets and timpani captures the splendor and excitement and energy of the holiday season, and he also knows how to write beautiful, serene, meditative, introspective music that also shows the joy and the mystery of the season,” comments Finney. “ All the solo parts in the Christmas Oratorio will sung by members of the chorus and I love this opportunity for our audience to get to hear our chorus as a wonderful unit singing choral music but also to hear each individual singer as a soloist in their own right. “
Classical New England, a service of WGBH Radio, will record Bach Christmas Oratorio for future broadcast.
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 H&H’s performances, including Handel’s Messiah at Symphony Hall in 1997 and 2004, and A Bach Christmas at NEC’s Jordan Hall in 2008 and 2010. 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. He 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. Mr. 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, Finney 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.
Teresa Neff received her PhD in Musicology from Boston University. Her research interests center around Gottfried van Swieten, a late 18th-century Viennese patron and composer. Artaria will publish Neff’s edition of Swieten’s symphonies later this year. She has presented papers at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society, and the Architecture/Music/Acoustics Conference. She presents concert preview lectures for Elderhostel and Boston Lyric Opera, and also teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Boston Conservatory.
Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 7pm
Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 2pm
Jordan Hall at NEC, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
Free with concert tickets
Musicologist Teresa Neff gives an illuminating look inside the music and historical context of the program.
HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY
Handel and Haydn Society (H&H) 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). Handel and Haydn today, under Artistic Director Harry Christophers’ leadership, is committed to its mission is 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) and is planning the release of a Haydn project (2013) and of an a capella program with its professional choir for the 2013 holiday season. The 2010–2011 Season marked the 25th anniversary of Handel and Haydn’s award-winning Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program, which brings music education, vocal training, and performance opportunities to 10,000 students annually throughout Greater Boston and beyond.
Handel and Haydn Society is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The media partner for Bach Christmas Oratorio is The Boston Globe.
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