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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.
Referred to as the quintessential singing-actress, Julia Taylor, is making a name for herself through her vivid character portrayals and technical prowess. Recently, Ms. Taylor made her company debut as Curley’s Wife in Austin Opera’s production of Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men and performed Ginastera’s String Quartet No.3 with the world-renowned Miró Quartet. She has been recognized as “Best Singer” by the Austin Critics’ Table Awards for the past two seasons for the roles of Mimì in La Femme Bohème with LOLA Opera and Beatrice in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers with the Butler Opera Center. Upcoming engagements include solo recitals with LOLA Opera, the Puccini Foundation, and the Butler School of Music, Königin der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte with the Butler Opera Center, and a role TBA with Austin Opera. Past engagements include soprano soloist in the Fauré Requiem and performances of Handel’s Messiah in Guatemala City and Antigua, Micaëla in Cabaret de Carmen(Bizet) with LOLA Opera, Cinderella in Into the Woods, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Baby Doe in Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, and Josephine in HMS Pinafore. Ms. Taylor is currently working to complete her DMA in opera performance at The University of Texas at Austin.
Heralded for her rich, satiny voice as much as her impeccable characterizations, mezzo-soprano Cindy Sadler is a force to be reckoned with on the operatic scene. Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times called her “wonderful” as Baba the Turk where she “made every phrase count”, and the press raved about her standout performance in which she “surpassed expectations” (NJ Star-Ledger), “made you forget she was a bearded lady … you loved her from the first note” (Philadelphia Inquirer), and “took this role to the bank, to several financial institutions, and then to various jewelers” (Princeton Packet).
The 2015 season found Ms. Sadler revisiting several signature roles, including her “smartly sung and portrayed” Marquise de Berkenfield in La fille du regiment in her company debut with Mill City Summer Opera; her “amusingly overripe” Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with the New Orleans Opera Association; and Gertrude in Romeo & Juliette in a “standout performance” with Austin Opera. She also made her company debut as Mrs. Quickly in Odyssey Opera’s Sir John in Love, where Boston Classical Review praised her as a “dark-toned presence” and stage directed The Magic Flute, with her own new translation of the dialogue, for Spotlight on Opera, a summer program in Austin, TX. Upcoming engagements include reprises of her Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette with Atlanta Opera and Marquise de Berkenfield with Austin Opera. In addition, she will stage direct Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi at the Mediterranean Opera Studio & Festival in Caltagirone, Sicily in the summer of 2016.
Praised by the New York Times as “dramatically astute” and a “stand out” performer, tenor Steven Brennfleck has been consistently acknowledged for his consummate artistry, vocal flexibility, and moving interpretations on the operatic and concert stage. His operatic credits include Laurie in Adamo’s Little Women, Dr. Binch in Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry, El Remendado (Carmen), The Madwoman in Britten’s Curlew River, Cégeste in Glass’ Orphée, Beppe (I Pagliacci), Testo in Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Pang (Turandot), Aeneas (Dido and Aeneas), Gonsalve (L’Heure Espagnol), Tobias Ragg (Sweeney Todd) with companies including American Opera Projects, the Caramoor Festival, Glimmerglass Opera, New York Lyric Opera Theatre, Opera Piccola of San Antonio, Portland Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, The Tanglewood Festival, Theatre Nohgaku, and the Westminster Opera Theatre.
Mr. Brennfleck made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2012 in Handel’s Messiah and returned during the 2014/15 season for a performance of Charles Wuorinen’s cantata It Happens Like This with the MET Chamber Ensemble. Equally at home on the concert stage, he has collaborated with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Handel Choir of Baltimore, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Princeton Baroque Orchestra, LA International New Music Festival, June in Buffalo Festival, Temple Symphony Orchestra, Westminster Festival Orchestra, and Princeton Pro Musica in works such as Bach’s B Minor Mass, Magnificat, and St. John Passion, Britten’s Cantata Misericordium, Haydn’s Creation and Missa St. Nicholas, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Mass in C minor, Requiem, and Vesperae Solennes del Confessore, and Saint-Saen’s Christmas Oratorio.
His performances during the 2016/17 season include appearances with the American Bach Soloists, the Austin Symphony Orchestra, and as Ramiro in La Cenerentola with the Alamo City Opera.
A native of Ewing, NJ, Mr. Brennfleck is also conductor of the Ars Longa Ensemble and a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.
Kerry Wilkerson’s solo career has taken him up and down the east coast performing renowned oratorios and exciting recitals. A resonant singer with unique evenness in register, the Washington Post has described him as an ‘exuberant’ performer having the ‘amber tone of a lyric baritone with the imposing weight demanded by Handel’s low-lying writing’. He has enjoyed a celebrated career as a member of the United States Army Chorus; singing and conducting for world leaders, Supreme Court Justices, politicians and dignitaries of many nations during official ceremony and protocol events.
In addition, Kerry has sung professionally with the US Air Force Singing Sergeants and the critically acclaimed Robert Shaw Festival Singers in many of the most prestigious concert halls throughout the United States and Canada. Kerry is well known to Washington, DC audiences through his solo recitals and regular guest appearances with choruses and orchestras such as the Handel Choir of Baltimore, the National Philharmonic Chorale and Orchestra, City Choir of Washington, Choralis, and the Oratorio Society of Virginia. Recent performances include Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with the North Carolina Master Chorale and Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem with the Air Force Symphony Orchestra at the acclaimed Kennedy Center. The 2016/17 season includes return appearances as Bass Soloist with Choralis in the Brahms Requiem and Gloria Musicae (Sarasota, FL) in the Verdi Requiem. He is thrilled to be making his debut with the Austin Symphony and Chorus Austin in Händel’s Messiah.
Kerry is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (B.M.) and George Mason University (M.A.).
Maestro's choice recordings, Purchase recommended recordings from Amazon.com and help support the ASO
Handel - Messiah (Complete) (3 CD Set) / Hunt, J. Williams, Spence, Minter, J. Thomas, W. Parker, PBO, McGeganPurchase at Amazon