December 10th, 2012 § 0 comments


Handel’s Messiah is arguably the world’s best-known and most-often performed oratorio in the world.  It became an instant hit at its premiere in Dublin in 1742, and today, some 270 years later, it is performed in one fashion another in every corner of the globe.  One of those corners is Hartford, Connecticut, where on Friday and Saturday, December 14 and 15, the HSO, and CONCORA, the region’s first all-professional concert choir, present Messiah in the Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

The musical forces will be quite similar to those which Handel had in mind; namely an orchestra of strings, oboes, bassoon, trumpets, timpani, with small organ and harpsichord as the keyboard instruments.  These total some twenty-seven of the HSO’s finest players, and CONCORA offers thirty-two highly trained voices, equally balanced at eight per part.  The result is a musical ensemble of considerable heft yet small enough to be as nimble as Handel might ever wish, making possible brisk (though unhurried) tempos and sparkling iterations of some very quick notes!   Our quartet of soloists hails from the Yale Opera Studio, as current or recent students, and these include soprano Claudia Rosenthal, mezzo-soprano Kelly Hill, tenor Galeano Salas, and bass/baritone Andrew Brown.

The idea behind this particular version of Messiah is that of Maestra Carolyn Kuan, who visited a CONCORA performance last December and shortly thereafter issued the invitation to the chorus to be a part a performance that might be called, “historically informed.”  (That phrase can easily call forth a yawn, but our performance will not.)  Maestra’s invitation was extended to me as well, to prepare and conduct the performances, and I am most grateful for the opportunity.


While we are not presenting the entire oratorio, we come close, and even with a few cuts, we will retain the dramatic thrust and scope of this epic work.   The performance will be dramatic, perhaps even opera-like as to our intention to wrest from every note the intensity that this great story deserves.  There will be moments of eagerness, some of bombast and pomp, many of tenderness, not a few that are poignant, and, along the way, and at the end, moments of triumph expressed in unbridled musical glory.

-Richard Coffey

Artistic Director, CONCORA

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