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By Judith Green | October 30, 1997
When Georg Friedrich Haendel came to England as court composer to the Elector of Hanover, who had been named King George I, he changed his name to George Frederick Handel and became a British subject.But there was one thing he didn't change. As one of the foremost opera composers in Europe, he continued to write operas in Italian, after the fashion of the time. He reckoned, however, without the stubborn British public distaste for foreign languages.For the better part of a decade (1730-1736)
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | November 11, 2011
At the age of 16, a French villager named Jeanne d'Arc responded to what she said were the voices of saints, exhorting her to take up arms against English invaders. Dressed in male clothing, she led troops to victory in battle after battle before being captured when she was 19. Jeanne heard voices again soon enough, but these were decidedly human ones, some mocking her and others praying for her as she slowly burned to death at the stake during a brutal execution carried out 580 years ago. This week, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra presents its first performance of a 1938 oratorio commemorating the woman whose faith, vision and bravery would eventually earn her sainthood.
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By Michael Hill | October 30, 1991
Well, he's not 64 yet, but Paul McCartney is moving in on the half-century mark. That happens next year. So, one supposes it's about time for a rock 'n' roller to turn his ear to the quieter strains of classical music.It seems like yesterday that Paul and the other Beatles were the ragged, long-haired hippies wandering amid the orchestra they had hired to play on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," encouraging these classically trained musicians to play with cacophony, without regular tempo, before joining for that haunting closing chord of "A Day in the Life."
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | December 30, 2010
The Bach Concert Series will welcome the new year with music written for the occasion — "Am Neujahrstag" ("For New Year's Day"), Part Four of Bach's "Christmas Oratorio. " Technically, the performance will be one day late, since this series presents its free programs on the first Sunday of every month, but that's close enough. This portion of the oratorio for soloists, chorus and orchestra offers a reflection on the biblical passage concerning the naming and circumcision of Jesus.
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By Tim Smith | November 19, 2000
Today is the Day of Judgment. No, this has nothing to do with the presidential election. We're talking a more spiritual -- and musical -- realm. Georg Philipp Telemann's 1762 oratorio "Der Tag Des Gerichts" ("The Day of Judgment") will receive a rare performance in an ideal setting this evening -- the baroque-style St. Ignatius Church in the Mount Vernon neighborhood. A specially assembled chorus, vocal soloists and period instrument orchestra (including a top-notch ensemble called the King's Noyse)
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 10, 2000
Like an overstuffed room in a Victorian house, Mendelssohn's oratorio "Elijah" is a little cluttered, a little dated, a little dull, but terribly, terribly sincere. It's a grand monument to mid-19th century tastes and high moral tone, an example of "truly reflected emotion and regular harmony," as Prince Albert declared after hearing it. Whatever its flaws, "Elijah" also remains a testament to Mendelssohn's considerable creative power, which a vivid, penetrating performance can unleash.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | November 11, 2011
At the age of 16, a French villager named Jeanne d'Arc responded to what she said were the voices of saints, exhorting her to take up arms against English invaders. Dressed in male clothing, she led troops to victory in battle after battle before being captured when she was 19. Jeanne heard voices again soon enough, but these were decidedly human ones, some mocking her and others praying for her as she slowly burned to death at the stake during a brutal execution carried out 580 years ago. This week, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra presents its first performance of a 1938 oratorio commemorating the woman whose faith, vision and bravery would eventually earn her sainthood.
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By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | April 12, 2001
An Annapolis Chorale performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" showcased historic St. Anne's Episcopal Church's restored look Saturday. In this beautifully refurbished setting that cost more than $1 million, the beginning of Holy Week was celebrated with Bach's majestic oratorio, sung to words of the Gospel describing Christ's betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion and entombment. St. Anne's dates to Bach's era - the original church was built on the site in 1692, seven years after the composer's birth.
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By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | March 25, 2004
J. Ernest Green's Annapolis Chorale and Chamber Orchestra presented Johann Sebastian Bach's deeply devotional monumental oratorio St. John Passion on Saturday at Saint Anne's Episcopal Church in Annapolis. Performing the work in German, music director Green added historic authenticity by presenting Bach's oratorio much as it was originally done at Saint Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, where it was first performed in 1724. Green invited the audience to sing certain passages along with chorale members who were seated in the side sections of the church.
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By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | April 12, 2001
An Annapolis Chorale performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" showcased historic St. Anne's Episcopal Church's restored look Saturday. In this beautifully refurbished setting that cost more than $1 million, the beginning of Holy Week was celebrated with Bach's majestic oratorio, sung to words of the Gospel describing Christ's betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion and entombment. St. Anne's dates to Bach's era - the original church was built on the site in 1692, seven years after the composer's birth.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com | December 4, 2008
Comfort ye who prefer Handel's Messiah just the way it was written in 1741. The version of the beloved oratorio being performed this weekend by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Morgan State University Choir may seem as if it has gone astray like sheep at first, but ev'ry worry is bound to be made low once the familiar music starts exalting to a new beat. Billed as Too Hot to Handel and subtitled "The Gospel Messiah," this kinetic reworking of a baroque masterpiece refashions the music through several contemporary styles - jazz, R&B and rock, as well as gospel.
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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,tim.smith@baltsun.com | October 30, 2008
Close on the heels of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's bold presentation of Leonard Bernstein's Mass, the area is about to get another jolt of music for voices and orchestra that incorporates sacred texts - Handel's Israel in Egypt. "It's going to seem old-fashioned and stodgy compared to Mass," says Tom Hall, artistic director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. "It's not one of Handel's more theatrical oratorios." One of his greatest, though. "The story it tells is very dramatic," Hall says, "but the oratorio is not dramatic in the way that we're used to. I should point out that, at the time, it was not one of Handel's most popular oratorios.
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By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,Special to the Sun | December 21, 2007
The Annapolis Chorale's annual presentation of George Frederic Handel's Messiah -- which, in the words of director J. Ernest Green, so beautifully "embodies in every note the power, majesty and mystery of faith" -- usually fills St. Anne's Episcopal Church to capacity. It did so again last Friday evening. To provide a moving religious experience, Handel's work requires soloists who are vocal virtuosi, a chorus that can articulate the message of hope and fulfillment with sensitivity and feeling, and an orchestra that supports them while majestically propelling the anthem forward.
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November 21, 2007
Sing-along -- St. James Episcopal Church will hold its 21st Messiah Sing-along at 4 p.m. Sunday at 5757 Solomons Island Road, Lothian. Vocalists are welcome to bring musical scores for the Christmas portion of Handel's oratorio and the Hallelujah Chorus. A candlelight reception will follow in the parish hall. 410-224-2478, or www.st jameslothian.com.
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By Sarah Hoover and Sarah Hoover,special to the sun | October 26, 2007
Howard County concertgoers have the opportunity tomorrow to enjoy music on either a grand or intimate scale, according to mood or whim. Extroverts might elect to attend Columbia Pro Cantare's 8 p.m. performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah at Jim Rouse Theatre, while those looking for something more intimate might prefer the 7:30 p.m. Candlelight Concert offering of the Amedeo Modigliani Quartet at Smith Theatre. The forces required for Mendelssohn's Elijah, a mid-19th century oratorio based on the life of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, include up to 10 soloists, eight-part chorus, organ and, when available, full symphony orchestra.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | May 19, 2005
Folks who like their operas packed with action tend to dismiss Samson et Dalila as a souped-up oratorio. Truth be told, it is a souped-up oratorio. But put a little faith and a lot of talent behind it, and the requirements for music/theater are easily met. The score, which contains some of Camille Saint-Saens' most beguiling and enduring tunes, certainly provides a potent starting point. Dalila gets the ultimate in seductive arias, Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix (to gauge its potency and indestructibility, check out Mae West's performance sometime)
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | March 20, 2001
George Bernard Shaw, who took a dim view of many things, once unleashed this unrivaled definition of oratorio: "Unstaged operettas on scriptural themes, written in a style in which solemnity and triviality are blended in the right proportion for boring an atheist out of his senses." This weekend, several Baltimore-area groups should have an easy time disproving that notion with performances of oratorios and a near-oratorio. Although the public never tires of "Messiah," there is much to savor in the rest of Handel's roughly two dozen oratorios.
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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | November 29, 2001
In America, the Thanksgiving holiday marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season. But for music lovers, the Yuletide spirit doesn't manifest itself until the strains of Messiah, Georg Frederick Handel's oratorio supreme, begin wafting into the December air. "He is the master of us all," said Franz Joseph Haydn on hearing the celestial "Hallelujah Chorus" for the first time. "Handel understands effect better than any of us," echoed an effusive Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. "When he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt."
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By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | May 6, 2005
Director J. Ernest Green and the Annapolis Chorale, Chamber Orchestra and soloists ended their 32nd season with a stunning performance of Felix Mendelssohn's 19th-century oratorio Elijah - a dramatic, near-operatic work of biblical proportions. Elijah is an expansive and powerful narrative charged with emotion and sharp musical contrasts that requires much from the chorus and orchestra while exacting great demands from the soloists - possibly the most from the baritone cast in the title role of the angry prophet.
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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | December 2, 2004
It took just 24 days to compose. Mozart paid it the ultimate compliment by rewriting it his way, complete with clarinets and French horns. And while it has become the prime musical staple of the Christmas season, most of the work is a commentary on the death and resurrection of Jesus, not on the circumstances of his birth. I refer, of course, to Messiah, the much-loved oratorio composed by George Frederick Handel in 1741 and premiered in Dublin, Ireland, in the spring of the following year.
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