7:30PM | ONLINE from BASILICA OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST | Friday December 11, 2020

From the beautiful Basilica of St. John the Baptist, the NSO presents Handel’s Messiah – sponsored by Cox & Palmer.

The NSO is joined by a special choir of local singers, soloists including: Maria Lacey, soprano; Abra Whitney, contralto; David Pomeroy, tenor; and Branden Olsen, baritone under the direction of conductor Kathleen Allan.

We are delighted to be presenting the complete Messiah available online for you to enjoy again and again – an NSO Christmas tradition since 1987


Join us before the concert at 7:15pm for our digital pre-show featuring Listen Up! hosted by Dale Jarvis. Listen as we ask behind the scenes with interviews of the artists, musicians and composers behind our concerts.


Notes on Händel’s Messiah

The creation of Händel’s Messiah was actually induced by his librettist, Charles Jennens. Jennens expressed in a letter to a friend that he wanted to create a Scriptural anthology set to the music of Händel. His desire quickly turned into reality when Händel composed the entire work in only twenty-four days. Jennens wished for a London debut in the days

leading to Easter, however, a doubtful Händel anticipated such a wish would not be granted. A year after the work was completed, Händel received an invitation to perform his music in Dublin to which he joyously agreed.

Messiah was met with eager ears at its debut on Friday, April 13, 1742 at Neal’s New Musick Hall on Fishamble Street. Händel had staged a public rehearsal the day before its premiere, creating quite a buzz. It is reported that hundreds of people were turned away due to lack of space. At its debut, Messiah was actually titled A Sacred Oratorio and all its proceeds were donated to local charities and hospitals for the mentally ill at the request of Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Since its debut, there have been many versions of Händel’s Messiah. Händel himself reworked and edited his score countless times to fit the needs and abilities of his performers. While the true original is lost in a sea of variations, today’s Messiah is as close to the original as music historiographers can agree upon. Though Messiah was originally intended as a thought-provoking work for Easter and Lent, it has become more of a Christmas tradition.


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