The Euro knockabout composer George Frideric Handel wrote his famous Messiah in a mere 24 days of feverish composing, setting to music scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens. Some suggest that the German-born, Italian-trained and London-based composer took to the English oratorio because his form of choice, the Italian opera, had fallen out of fashion, taking Handel’s reputation with it. Written originally with modest instrumentation in mind, the Messiah has grown famous for expansive and bombastic performances, though experts note a recent trend toward scaled-back and period-accurate presentations.
The Bardavon’s “Handel’s Messiah” production will not partake of this new trend. Guest conductor Christine Howlett leads the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and a total ensemble of 150 performers, including guest vocalists from Capella Festiva, in a performance of Handel’s Messiah on Saturday, December 20 at 2 p.m. at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston. Audience members will have the opportunity to sing along with the choral sections, and music will be provided.
The Canadian conductor and soprano Howlett is the director of choral activities at Vassar College, where she conducts the Vassar College Women’s Chorus and Vassar College Choir. Her choruses have sung at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and have toured in Italy, Turkey, Germany, Spain and in the US. Howlett is the artistic director of Cappella Festiva, an auditioned choral ensemble with a 35-year history of performing in the Hudson Valley.
Howlett will be giving a pre-concert talk at 1 p.m. Tickets for this performance cost $25 to $50, depending on location, and can be bought in advance by calling (845) 339-6088 or at www.bardavon.org. Student Rush tickets will be available one hour prior to the concert for $20, subject to availability. Dutchess residents can take a bus from the Bardavon to UPAC for $20 round-trip. Contact the box office for details.