Handel and Haydn Society Presents Bach Christmas Oratorio, 12/13 & 16

Associate Conductor and chorusmaster John Finney returns to once again lead Handel and Haydn Society in a holiday celebration of Bach's music. The Christmas Oratorio continues Handel and Haydn's holiday tradition of bringing the finest gems by Bach following the annual performances of Messiah. The Boston Globe described the 2011 Bach holiday concert as "a whirlwind sleigh ride that even Santa might envy" and in 2010 pronounced that "the music of Johann Sebastian Bach is nearly as crucial to Christmas as Santa Claus, Salvation Army bell-ringers, and eggnog."

Bach's Christmas Oratorio was composed by Bach for the six feast days of Christmas in 1734–1735 (as the Christmas holiday began in December 1734 and ended in January 1735). Each of the cantatas were written to represent a specific story. The concert will feature Cantatas I, II, and VI. Cantata I relates the story of the birth of Jesus, Cantata II tells of the annunciation to the shepherds, and Cantata IV the adoration of the Magi. The instrumentation for each cantata differs slightly to reflect the nature of that cantata. The first cantata includes trumpets to represent the joyful arrival of Jesus, while Cantata II includes the softer oboes to reflect the shepherds' pastoral life.<

"Bach's music personifies all the moods of the holiday season better than almost any other Baroque composer. His writing for trumpets and timpani captures the splendor and excitement and energy of the holiday season, and he also knows how to write beautiful, serene, meditative, introspective music that also shows the joy and the mystery of the season," comments Finney. " All the solo parts in the Christmas Oratorio will sung by members of the chorus and I love this opportunity for our audience to get to hear our chorus as a wonderful unit singing choral music but also to hear each individual singer as a soloist in their own right. "

Classical New England, a service of WGBH Radio, will record Bach Christmas Oratorio for future broadcast.

Subscriptions and single tickets may be purchased through the Handel and Haydn (H&H) Box Office by phone at 617 266 3605, online at handelandhaydn.org, or in person at the Handel and Haydn office, Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston (M–F, 10am–6pm). Single tickets range from $20 to $78. Student rush is available starting one hour before the performance: $15 cash only with valid ID, best available seats subject to availability. Groups of 10 or more receive a 20% discount.