Houston Symphony Celebrates with Handel's MESSIAH, Now thru 12/23

Houston Symphony Celebrates with Handel's MESSIAH, Now thru 12/23

Carrying on the Houston legacy of holiday seasons past, The Houston Symphony will perform Handel's Messiah tonight, December 21 and the 22nd and 23rd at Jones Hall.

Handel's Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel. Taken from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, the text of the work was compiled by Charles Jennen. The piece was premiered to a tepid reception in Europe, but since has come to be one of the most well loved and frequently performed choral works in Western music. Calling forth images of Jesus Christ's nativity, passion, resurrection and ascension, Handel's Messiah begins with God's promises as spoken by the prophets and ending with Christ's glorification in heaven.

Vocalists joining the Houston Symphony include GillIan Keith, soprano; Jay Carter, countertenor; Chad Shelton, tenor; Brian Mulligan, baritone; and the Houston Symphony Chorus, led by Charles Hausmann.

This Symphony Special performance takes place in Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St., Houston, Texas.

Friday, December 21, 2012, 8:00pm
Saturday, December 22, 2012, 8:00pm
Sunday, December 23, 2012, 2:30pm

Handel's Messiah
Matthew Halls, conductor
GillIan Keith, soprano
Jay Carter, countertenor
Chad Shelton, tenor
Brian Mulligan, baritone
Houston Symphony Chorus
Charles Hausmann, director
Handel: Messiah

Tickets from $29

Matthew Halls has made his mark as one of today's leading young conductors, having made significant debuts in the United States with the Houston Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Detroit Symphony, and in Europe with the Tonkünstler Orchestra, Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Berlin Radio Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Iceland Symphony, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. In 2011, he was named Artistic Director designate of the Oregon Bach Festival to replace founding director Helmuth Rilling following the 2013 Festival.

Halls' eclectically designed orchestral programs span centuries, juxtaposing diverse composers such as Byrd, Britten, Gesualdo and Schoenberg. He also has an avowed passion for the 19th century Germanic and 20th century British repertoires, which he will be exploring in highly-anticipated returns to the Oregon Bach Festival, Colorado Symphony, National Symphony, RTE Dublin and the Bergen Philharmonic in the coming season. Forthcoming North American debuts include the Seattle and Columbus Symphonies, and a two-week engagement with the Minnesota Orchestra.

In addition to his symphonic engagements, he's been a guest conductor with Colorado's Central City Opera for three successive summers, directing a premiere of his own edition of Handel's opera Amadigi di Gaula in 2011, Puccini's Madame Butterfly in 2010 and Handel's Rinaldo for his 2009 debut.

He is the founding director of the Retrospect Ensemble, which is in the vanguard of performance-practice groups with an annual series in London's famed Wigmore Hall. Other appearances for the ensemble range from the Edinburgh International Festival to the Krakow Festival of Polish Music and a relationship with the Korean National Opera.

About Gillian Kieth, soprano
GillIan Keith has emerged as one of Canada's leading lyric sopranos. Her superb voice and musicianship are at home both on the opera stage and on the concert platform‚ making her one of the most stylish and versatile artists of her generation.

A past winner of the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Award‚ she made her Royal Opera‚ Covent Garden debut as Zerbinetta in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos and has gone on to repeat the role with great success at Ópera de Oviedo and Welsh National Opera. Appearances this season and beyond include Philine in Thomas's Mignon‚ Iphis in Jephtha, Sylvie in Gounod's La Colombe‚ Tytania in A Midsummer Night's Dream‚ Tigrane in Radamisto and the Angel in Handel's La Resurrezione with Ars Lyrica Houston.

This season's concert performances include a Ferrier Centenary Concert at the Wigmore Hall‚ Knussen's Symphony No. 2 with the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall‚ St Matthew Passion with Handel and Haydn Society in Boston and King of Egypt with the BBC Philharmonic.

She has performed in concert throughout North America and Europe under leading conductors, including Sir John Eliot Gardiner‚ Daniele Gatti‚ Sir Richard Armstrong‚ Peter Schreier‚ Richard Hickox‚ Gianandrea Noseda‚ Harry Christophers and Sir Mark Elder.

About Jay Carter, countertenor
American countertenor Jay Carter is quickly gaining recognition as one of the nation's finest, lauded for his luminous tone and stylish interpretations in the music of Bach, Handel and Purcell. A frequent collaborator with both period and modern ensembles, Carter is nationally recognized as a leading interpreter of late Baroque repertoire. He has also gained acclaim for recital programs of modern classics by composers such as Brahms, Britten, Schubert, and Hahn, a genre typically outside the standard countertenor repertoire.

Carter made his Carnegie Hall debut in Messiah with Musica Sacra/Kent Tritle and recently made his Kennedy Center Debut with The National Symphony under the baton of Matthew Halls in Messiah. Recent appearances include Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the American Bach Soloists, Handel's Messiah with the National Symphony, Handel's Saul with Musica Vocale and the Kansas City Baroque Constortium, Bach's B minor Mass with the Choir of St. Thomas Church New York and the North American premiere of John Tavener's Lament for Jerusalem with the Choral Arts Society of Washington. He has worked with noted conductors including Simon Carrington, Arnold Epley, John Scott, Sir Philip Ledger, Nicholas McGegan and Helmuth Rilling. In the coming season Carter will make his Cleveland Orchestra debut under the baton of Ton Koopman as well as return engagements with The Kingsbury Ensemble, The Houston Symphony, The Choir of St. Thomas Church New York.

Carter is increasingly in demand as a guest lecturer on countertenor technique and repertory, frequently offering unique interactive lecture-recitals and master classes. He received a Masters in Music from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, where he studied with James Taylor, Simon Carrington and Judith Malafronte, and was singled out for the Louise E. McClain scholarship. He received his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College, where he studied voice with Arnold Epley. Carter was a 2008 regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He lives in Liberty, Missouri with his wife and two children, and serves as artist-in-residence at William Jewell College mentoring undergraduate music students.

About Chad Shelton, tenor
This season, Chad Shelton's performance highlights include Gerald Barry's The Importance of Being Earnest with the Opera national de Lorraine, Der Fliegende Holländer with the Boston Lyric Opera and Verdi's Requiem with the Brussels Philharmonic. He most recently performed with the Houston Symphony in 2010, presenting Siegel's Kaddish. A frequent leading presence with Houston Grand Opera, he has joined the company for La traviata, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Die lustige Witwe, The Makropolous Affair, Die Zauberflöte, Billy Budd and L'elisir d'amore.

Engagements with Opera National de Lorraine include Idomeneo, Cherubini's Médée, Carmen, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Eine florentinische Tragödie and Die Zauberflöte. Other career highlights include Ermione, Lysistrata, Little Woman, Glass' Apoamattox, Rigoletto and Lucia di Lammermoor, Romeo in Roméo et Juliette, Die Fledermaus and Fidelio, Blitzstein's Regina. Acclaimed for contemporary works, he created leading roles in Adamo's Lysistrata, Little Women and Catan's Salsipuedes.

Equally in demand as a concert soloist, Shelton has joined the Minnesota Orchestra for Mozart's Requiem, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Janacek's The Diary of One Who Disappeared and the title role of Candide. He has performed with the Pacific Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Colorado Music Festival, Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

About Brian Mulligan, baritone
American baritone Brian Mulligan is the 2006 winner of the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Vocal Competition, only the third American in the competition's history to win this coveted prize. He has been praised by Opera News for his "velvety, evenly and effortlessly produced baritone and nuance-rich phrasing" and by Opera Now for his "commanding presence [and] booming sound."

In the 2012-13 season, Mulligan will return to San Francisco Opera as the King's Herald in Lohengrin, Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Father in Hansel and Gretel, a debut with the Canadian Opera Company as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor and the title role of Hamlet with Minnesota Opera. Symphonic highlights include a debut with the Baltimore Symphony in Carmina Burana, Los Angeles Master Chorale in Brahms' Requiem and the West Coast premiere of Lieberson's The World in Flower conducted by Grant Gershon.

On the concert stage, recent seasons included a Chicago Symphony debut in the world premiere performances of Songs for Adam, a cycle of meditations on Adam and Eve by composer James Primosch and poet Susan Stewart. Other highlights include Handel's Judas Maccabæus with Mo. Conlon and members of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, a debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony; concert versions of Der Kaiser von Atlantis with Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Ravinia Festival, Mendelssohn's Paulus with the Houston Symphony and Mendelssohn's Elijah with the Phoenix Symphony.

A graduate of the Juilliard School, Mulligan has also been awarded a Richard Tucker Career Grant, a Sara Tucker Study Grant and the George London Prize. Mulligan holds dual citizenship in the United States and Ireland.

About Charles Hausmann
Dr. Charles S. Hausmann was named director of the Houston Symphony Chorus in 1986. He has prepared the group for more than 600 concerts, led them on numerous tours to Mexico and Europe, and worked with more than 40 acclaimed conductors including Hans Graf, Christoph Eschenbach, Claus Peter Flor and Robert Shaw. His extensive repertoire includes most of the major choral/orchestral masterworks.

As director of graduate choral studies and professor of conducting at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music since 1985, Hausmann supervises the master's and doctoral programs in choral conducting, teaches choral conducting and literature and conducts the Moores School Choral Artists-a graduate chamber choir.

An active church musician, he has conducted church choirs in Colorado, Kentucky, New Jersey and Texas. He currently serves as Director of Choral Music at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston where he led the Houston Symphony and Chorus in a performance of Mendelssohn's St. Paul in 2008.

Hausmann frequently appears as a guest conductor, lecturer, clinician and soloist. He led the Chorus on its fourth European tour in 2007, appearing as guest conductor during the Prague Spring Festival. He and the Chorus share a 24-year collaboration with Mexico City's Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, recently performing Mendelssohn's Elijah with former Associate Conductor, Carlos Miguel Prieto.

About the Houston Symphony
In the 2012-13 Season, the Houston Symphony is in its 99th year as one of America's leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. Under the artistic leadership of Hans Graf, the orchestra's longest serving music director, the Symphony has established a reputation for innovative, powerful performances. With its Centennial Celebration on the horizon in 2013-14, the Houston Symphony is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas whose inaugural performance was held at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $28 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 280 concerts for 300,000 people annually. For tickets and more information, visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.