Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orchestra revives Handel’s original inspiration for “Messiah”

The American Baroque Orchestra uses original sources, rarely performed elements in Nov. 19 performance

NEW HAVEN - The American Baroque Orchestra offers a fresh hearing of Handel’s classic “Messiah” on Nov. 19, organizers said in a statement.
"The historically-informed performance is directed by Mark Bailey and will feature the stellar voices of the American Baroque Singers. The concert takes place in the visually and acoustically beautiful Marquand Chapel at the Yale Divinity School," the statement said.

Mark Bailey, "a specialist in early music and the artistic director of American Baroque Orchestra," has "assembled a rare version of “Messiah,” the statement said “This performance,” he said, also in the statement, “is a chance to explore Handel's initial inspiration and genius in ‘Messiah.’”

"Bailey points out that 'most versions we hear have standardized the work,'" the statement said.
"ABO, in contrast, looks to Handel’s handwritten manuscript and the copy used to conduct the premiere in 1742. The performance on (Nov. 19 ) will use “some of the alternate versions of the arias and duets that are less often sung in concert.” It’s like a director’s cut.

"The ensemble further adds vitality through exciting ornamentation, notes inégales (slightly swung rhythms), and other hallmarks of what Bailey calls 'stylistic fidelity.'”

“The result,”  Bailey said in the sttaement, is a “Messiah” that sounds “fresh, intimate, multi-layered, and energized.”

The selection of arias and choruses aligns around a central theme. This is a version of “Messiah” created for the Christmas season, though it was originally performed at Easter-time, the statement said.

The American Baroque Orchestra, a first-rate period instrumental ensemble, has been active in New Haven and beyond for several years and was officially established last year. Bailey also directs its companion vocal ensemble, American Baroque Singers, which enjoyed a successful debut in October and in this concert will be joined by the trebles of St. Paul’s Choir (Fairfield).

The Nov. 19 at 7:30 pm in Marquand Chapel, 409 Prospect St. Parking is available on site.

Advance tickets are $18 general admission, $35 for preferred patron seating, and are available at At the door, general admission tickets are $20, and student tickets are available on a pay-as-you-can basis. Door sales are cash and check only.
For more information, visit

About the Performers (all information provided)

The American Baroque Orchestra is a first-rate period instrumental ensemble filled with extraordinary talent. Under the direction of Mark Bailey, its superior musicians perform great musical works with energy, depth, ingenuity, and historical insight. By enlivening education about baroque performance, ABO fulfills its mission to build vibrant and meaningful connections between listeners and musical repertoire. The genesis of the ensemble dates to the 2004–2005 season, and ABO enjoyed its first official season in 2010–2011. The ensemble displays an innovative respect for music and its history though discovery, collaboration, and education.

Mark Bailey, the artistic director of American Baroque Orchestra, extensively leads and performs music of the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries, with particular focus on Slavic instrumental and vocal repertoire. He has been artistic director of the Yale Russian Chorus since 1995 and frequently guest-conducts ensembles such as Cappella Romana and Pro Coro Canada, which will soon release “The Heart of Kiev,” a recording of choral works by baroque and classical Slavic composers under Mr. Bailey’s direction. He frequently lectures on the topic of Slavic music and period performance practice at major colleges and universities, as well as at venues such as Lincoln Center. His transcriptions and arrangements of Slavic baroque music are performed extensively, most recently by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in their season opener. Mr. Bailey also plays baroque viola and coaches singers and instrumentalists in period style, technique, and ornamentation.

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed. Photo provided by Chris Wallingford.

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