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May 8, 2009

Handel Choir announces 75th anniversary season

Given the losses and near-losses experienced in the local arts scene during the Great Recession so far, it's heartening to see that the Handel Choir of Baltimore has survived its own financial struggles this season and is gearing up to mark its 75th anniversary.

The ensemble, which has gained remarkable musical ground with artistic director and conductor Melinda O'Neal, will, of course, include Handel's Messiah during the anniversary season, an annual tradition since 1935. There will be another nod to the choir's namesake -- a staged presentation of his last oratorio, Jephtha, in a co-production with Tim Nelson's American Opera Theater. Messiah and Jephtha will feature period instrument orchestras.

Handel plays a subtle role in the rest of the season. O'Neal has chosen repertoire that reflects the composer's influence on choral music over the ages. The season will open in a collaboration with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra's own season-opener (the BCO is another survivor of a very dicey financial situation this year). The chorus will perform two pieces by Mendelssohn. That composer's Elijah was performed in Baltimore by a group that subsequently formed the Handel Choir -- providing a neat little resonance for the 75th anniversary starter.

The popularity of Handel's oratorios in England led to a major choral tradition in that country, which spread to America. That Handelian connection will be acknowledged in a program of British and American music, including the Mass in G minor by Vaughan Williams and works by Ives, Thompson, Britten and Tavener. 

Here's a little teaser for the Handel Choir's 2009-2010 season, the Benedictus from that exquisite Mass by Vaughan Williams:



Posted by Tim Smith at 7:39 AM | | Comments (1)


Please fix the misspelling in the title.

Done. Thanks. I guess I wasn't wide enough awake to handle blogging this morning.TS

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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