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- Austin Symphony & Chorus Austin
- December 6, 2016 7:59 PM
- where: Hyde Park Baptist Church directions
The Austin Symphony once again presents its Christmas tradition, Handel’s Messiah, accompanied by Chorus Austin for you and your family at Hyde Park Baptist Church. This will be the third season that the ASO has brought this performance to Hyde Park. HPBC has great parking and plenty of superb seating.
We hope you will move with us and enjoy this holiday classic and a city favorite. This night of musical magic will comfort you through its familiarity and fill you with the joy of rediscovery. Let us begin your winter celebrations with a performance full of rejoicing!
Seating is general admission within purchased section.
Hyde Park Baptist Church
Austin, TX 78751
Parking map can be found here.
All artists, programs and dates are subject to change
|George Frideric Handel||Messiah|
George Frederic Handel b. February 3, 1685 in Halle, Germany; d. April 14, 1759 in London.
Messiah, A Sacred Oratorio Completed in 1741
The preeminent English conductor Sir Thomas Beecham wrote in his memoirs the following regarding Handel’s music: “Since his time mankind has heard no music written for voices which can even feebly rival his for grandeur of build and tone, nobility and tenderness of melody, scholastic skill and ingenuity and inexhaustible variety of effect…Handel…is the undeniably great international master of all time. He wrote Italian music better than any Italians; French music better than any Frenchman; English music better than any Englishman; and with the exception of Bach, out-rivaled all other Germans.”
Messiah is one of the greatest musical masterpieces of all time, and very possibly the greatest work ever written in England. It is also, in all probability, the most performed work in the history of classical music. In virtually every city of the free world Messiah is performed at least once every year, and sometimes at multiple Christian holidays during a given year. Messiah, unlike other great choral works such as Brahms’ German Requiem or Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, does not require a full symphony orchestra and massed choir to perform. Consequently, any church, school or civic music ensemble can mount a performance of this enduring masterpiece, almost regardless of the resources it has at its disposal. The English composer Michael Tippett once recounted that, while visiting Kenya on holiday, he stumbled onto a small village where Messiah was being rehearsed, led by a missionary from England. The chorus, consisting of twelve singers who could not speak, much less sing in English, simply memorized the sounds of the words, and having little, if any, understanding of the significance of the words. The “orchestra” consisted of a string quartet of battered instruments and a few native wind instruments whose players tried their best to mimic the sounds of the accompanying gramophone recording!
The reason for Messiah’s popularity is that the music, while elegant and beautiful, is relatively easy to play, and the text comes exclusively from familiar biblical sources, the story of Christ being almost universally understood.
Handel frequently altered the musical forces in his stagings of the oratorio, based on which singers and what instruments were available at each venue. Over a period of two and a half centuries music performance standards have changed. Mozart, for example, added flutes, clarinets and trombones to Handel’s sparse scoring, which was basically strings with pairs of oboes, bassoons and trumpets added to simply reinforce the sound. Each generation, it seems, has felt the need to adapt this great work in the prevailing fashion of the day. In the 20th century, instrumental and choral varieties have abounded, from Beecham’s 1959 version for full modern symphony orchestra and chorus exceeding 300 singers, sung at almost operatic proportions, to the recent trend of producing “authentic,” more intimate versions featuring period instruments and small choral ensembles. In England, Messiah is occasionally performed at choral festivals, where the chorus can swell to 2,000 to 3,000 singers (Handel originally called for about 20)!
In addition to the performance variable of personnel, the issue of exactly how much of Messiah is presented is also a question. Seldom is it performed in its entirety, with alternate versions of arias and all the appendices. Conductors still pick and choose exactly which selections of Messiah to program. For example, some conductors choose to end with the “Hallelujah” chorus, even though it is the concluding section of the second part of the three-part oratorio. In some versions, performers change the order of the sections, creating, if you will, a “customized” version of Handel’s most famous work. Because of all these variables, no two performances of Messiah are ever exactly alike. There is no other composition in the repertoire with such a malleable and chameleon-like shape and sound.
The facts surrounding the composition of Messiah are easily chronicled. Handel began shying away from writing operas in the 1730s, his attention turning to writing concert oratorios, usually on historical or biblical themes. Messiah was the third mature oratorio composed, and in the ten years after it Handel wrote eleven more, none of them resembling Messiah in theme or treatment. Handel’s frequent librettist, Charles Jennens, compiled the text, drawn from the Bible and the Prayer Book Psaltery.
In 1741 Handel was invited to give a series of oratorio concerts in Dublin and realized that an oratorio with a special message could be offered for the final performance, which was intended to be for charitable purposes. Handel’s season in Dublin turned out to be all that he could wish for, and the premiere of Messiah (on April 13, 1742) was the season’s triumphant conclusion, a large sum of money being raised for charities. The oratorio was then presented in London less than a year later, but its production faced great controversy when it was discovered that Handel intended that this most sacred work would be staged at a popular theater, which clerics declared anathema. It was at these performances where one of the great traditions of Messiah performances began, even though the story is probably apocryphal. Handel’s patron, King George II, attended one of the performances, and according to legend, stood up in respect to the Almighty when the “Hallelujah” chorus began. As he was the monarch, the audience respectfully followed his lead, ad to this day the tradition of standing during this unforgettable chorus remains.
© 2004 Stephen Aechternacht
Described as exciting, dynamic and charismatic, Ryan Heller leads the award-winning Chorus Austin as conductor and artistic director, having joined Austin’s vibrant classical music scene in 2009. Mr. Heller and Chorus Austin were honored in 2013 as winner of the national Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award, given to recognize a chorus for programming recently composed music. The group also was twice a national finalist for the prestigious American Prize under Mr. Heller’s guidance. And in 2012, Chorus Austin was named one of the Top 10 Classical Musical Treasures by Robert Faires of the Austin Chronicle. In 2008, Ryan Heller was nominated for a Portland Music Award as “Outstanding Classical Musician.”
He has led ensembles across the United States with appearances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Chicago’s Symphony Hall. He has toured internationally in Italy, Germany, Estonia, Sweden and in China where he led combined choirs from Texas at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing and at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.
In addition to Chorus Austin, Mr. Heller also serves as director of the award-winning Pride of Portland Chorus of Sweet Adelines International. He co-founded the Portland Vocal Consort and Columbia Choral of Oregon, serving as conductor and artistic director of both groups. He also was conductor and artistic director of the Southwest Washington Symphony.
He has served as musical director for a wide variety of productions throughout the West Coast, including the world premiere of the opera The Canticle of the Black Madonna in Portland last year. Other productions include Brigadoon, Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore, Sweeney Todd, Annie, Company and Into the Woods. As an active performer, he has appeared and/or recorded with groups such as the Portland Opera, William Hall Master Chorale, Choral Cross-Ties, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Capella Romana, Lakewood Theater Company and the Broadway Rose Theater Company.
Ryan Heller is in frequent demand as a conductor, singer and coach. He has been hailed by critics and called “exciting, charismatic and intelligent – a young conductor to keep our eyes on.” In his seventh season, Mr. Heller is thrilled to be leading Chorus Austin as the group continues its 50th anniversary celebration. For this artist, it is about making great music with an outstanding ensemble and sharing it with Austin and the Central Texas community.
Hailed for her “delicate, mellifluous sound,” and “exquisite,” “radiant” tone, Meredith Ruduski is a soprano of unusual versatility and artistry. From Hildegarde to Sondheim, Meredith excels both as an onstage performer and recording artist.
Meredith appears regularly with groups such as Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Grammy-nominated Seraphic Fire and Ars Lyrica, and Austin’s very own Texas Early Music Project.
Meredith is the Operations Coordinator at Texas Early Music Project, where she co-produced and co-wrote their most recent opera pastiche, That’s Amore: An Early Valentine, and she looks forward to co-producing the next show in February 2016. Meredith also writes, produces, and hosts TEMP’s “Music History Shorts”, an educational Youtube series for music history fans everywhere.
Meredith received her Master’s Degree in Music at the University of Houston and her Bachelor’s Degree in Music at the University of Texas at Austin. More about Meredith and her concert/recording schedule may be found on her website: www.meredithruduski.com.
Liz Cass is an Austin-based mezzo soprano, Executive Producer of LOLA – Local Opera Local Artists,voice teacher, and public speaker. Ms. Cass holds the position of Community Liaison with the Armstrong Community Music School where she has been a member of the faculty and staff for over 11 years.
Ms. Cass’s recent engagements include a Gala Concert with Austin Opera, Carmen in LOLA’s and Lawrence Opera theatre’s productions of Cabaret de Carmen, and Marcello in LOLA’s La Femme Bohème. Last season, Liz performed in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Chorus Austin, and was the soloist in Manuel de Falla’s El Amor, Brujo with the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
Each year, Ms. Cass travels to Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala to perform Handel’s Messiah. Dignitaries from all over the world come together for these events in which proceeds benefit various educational efforts throughout the country. In addition to returning to Guatemala, Liz’s upcoming schedule includes the remounting of La Femme Bohème with LOLA, concerts with Patryce King, Carla McElheney, and Graham Yates, a new opera composed by Graham Reynolds on the life of Pancho Villa, and a newly commissioned piece by Donald Grantham with Chorus Austin.
Liz Cass is a graduate of the University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory of Music. Liz began studying with her teacher Inci Bashar at UMKC in 1997, and continues studying with her to this day.
Paul James D’Arcy
Paul D’Arcy (tenor) is in demand nationally as a soloist, chamber musician, and music educator. He currently resides in Austin, TX, where he performs with the Grammy® winning Conspirare, ensemble viii, Convergence, the Austin Symphony, and the Texas Early Music Project. Paul also performs with the San Diego Bach Collegium, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Vox Humana of Dallas, True Concord of Tucson, the Apollo Master Chorale of Minnesota, Spire of Kansas City, the Advent Choir of Boston, and in the Victoria Bach Festival. For the past fifteen years, he has been a featured soloist with various ensembles and festivals. Works include Bach’s Magnificat, Saint John Passion, Christmas Oratorio, Easter Oratorio and many cantatas; Mozart’s Requiem, Vesperæ solemnes de Dominica, and masses; Haydn’s Stabat Mater and various masses; Handel’s Messiah and Dixit Dominus; Schubert’s masses; Caldara’s Stabat Mater; Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio, Monteverdi’s Vespers and Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien. He has performed on numerous recordings for Harmonia Mundi, Reference Recordings, Naxos, and PBS, including a 2015 Grammy winning album. Paul also has an active voice studio of almost thirty students.
David Small, baritone, enjoys an established career on the operatic and concert stage. His richly varied repertoire includes more than 60 operatic roles ranging from Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia to Scarpia in Tosca. He has been featured with many orchestras including the St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati May Festival, Austin Symphony and Rochester Philharmonic. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Schubert’s Mass in G with John Rutter conducting. An avid recitalist, he has performed with pianists Anton Nel, Rick Rowley, Joachim Reinhuber and many others. In 2011, he was recognized as a Master Teacher by the National Association of Teachers of Singing and was an invited presenter at the 2008 NATS National Convention. His students have performed roles with companies such as Austin Lyric Opera and Opera Carolina, and have served apprenticeships with companies that include Sarasota Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera. Mr. Small earned his Artist’s Diploma and Master of Music degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of the late Metropolitan Opera basso Italo Tajo, and earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the DePauw University School of Music where he studied with Thomas Fitzpatrick.
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Handel - Messiah (Complete) (3 CD Set) / Hunt, J. Williams, Spence, Minter, J. Thomas, W. Parker, PBO, McGeganPurchase at Amazon