Handel and Haydn Society Presents A Bach Christmas 12/15, 12/18

Handel and Haydn Society Presents A Bach Christmas, conducted by Steven Fox, with the December 18th performance to be broadcast live by Classical New England.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 8pm
Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 3pm

NEC's Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

A Bach Christmas

J.S. Bach: Cantata 133 (In Thee do I Rejoice)
J.S. Bach: Cantata V from Christmas Oratorio
Manuel de Zumaya: Celebren, Publiquen
Anon. (Bolivian): Sonata Chiquitanas
Bortniansky: Tebe Boga Xvalim
Anon.: The Shepherd's Star
Ingalls: The Apple Tree

Steven Fox, conductor

Subscriptions and single tickets may be purchased through the Handel and Haydn 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 available starting one hour before curtain: $15 cash only with valid ID, best available seats subject to availability. Groups of 10 or more receive a 20% discount.

American conductor Steven Fox makes his H&H debut in an exploration of music written for Christmas by Bach and other non-traditional Baroque composers. This exploration of works from around the world continues Handel and Haydn's holiday music traditions, following the annual performances of Messiah. A Bach Christmas was performed for sold out audiences in 2010.

Bach's Cantata No. 133 (Ich freue mich in dir, "In Thee do I rejoice") was composed for the Tuesday of Christmas week and was first performed on December 27, 1724. The Christmas Oratorio was also written for the Christmas season, but was composed ten years later in 1734. The work is one of three oratorios written towards the end of Bach's career for major religious feasts. All three include a tenor Evangelist as narrator and parody earlier compositions; the Christmas Oratorio is by far the longest and most complex work. Cantata V describes the journey of the Magi and was written for the first Sunday after New Year.

In addition to the classic holiday Bach, the program will feature works of the Baroque by other international composers. Manuel de Zumaya, a Mexican composer of the colonial period (c. 1678-1755), composed music that represents the culmination of the Baroque style in the New World. Celebren, Publiquen showcases Zumaya's facility with polychoral composition, reflecting the style that was favored by the Spanish and Mexican choral schools in the early 18th century. Works of Bolivian, Ukrainian, and American origin from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries will round out the program.

On Sunday, December 18, Classical New England, a service of WGBH Radio, will broadcast A Bach Christmas live. An additional airing is scheduled for December 25 in celebration of Christmas Day.


Pre-Concert Conversation

Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 7pm

Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 2pm

Jordan Hall at NEC, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

Free with concert tickets

Musicologist Teresa Neff gives an illuminating look inside the music and historical context of the program.

Steven Fox makes his Handel and Haydn Society debut conducting A Bach Christmas. Fox is one of the leading early music specialists of his generation. He is Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of New York's Clarion Music Society, and Music Director of Musica Antiqua St. Petersburg in Russia. In 2009, he served as interim Artistic Director of the Music Program at Trinity Church Wall Street, returned for the third time to New York City Opera as Associate Conductor, and also worked as a guest conductor with the Yale University Schola Cantorum.

At the age of 21, Fox traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, and founded the country's first period-instrument orchestra, Musica Antiqua St. Petersburg. With Musica Antiqua, he has revived a lost repertoire of Russian 18th-century music from the court of Catherine the Great, including the earliest Russian symphony, Berezovsky's Symphony in C (c. 1771), and the premiere of Dmitri Bortniansky's final opera, Le fils rival (1787), in the Hermitage Theater.

In 2006, Fox was appointed the third Artistic Director of the Clarion Music Society, succeeding Newell Jenkins and Frederick Hammond. Since then, he has led the Society's orchestra and choir in critically-acclaimed performances at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, The Morgan Library's Gilder Lehrman Hall, The Aston Magna Festival, and at St. Ignatius Loyola in conjunction with the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series. The New York Times has called his performances with Clarion "deeply satisfying;" BBC Music Magazine hailed his musical leadership as "visionary;" and the American Record Guide praised his conducting for its "precision and expression."
Fox graduated as a Senior Fellow with High Honors from Dartmouth College and received a MMus degree with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music, London, in 2003. In 2010, Fox was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, an award only offered to past students of the Academy who have distinguished themselves in the music profession and made a significant contribution in their field. He is the 2009 recipient of the Honors Diploma in the Master Players Conducting Competition in Lugano, Switzerland, and he has given master classes in Historical Performance at Yale University and Dartmouth College, and in early oratorio at The Juilliard School.

Harry Christophers enters his third season as Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society with the 2011-2012 Season. Since September 2006, when he led a sold-out performance in the Esterházy Palace at the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, he has conducted Handel and Haydn each season and, following his appointment in 2008, Christophers' tenure as Artistic Director began with the 2009-2010 season. Christophers and Handel and Haydn have since embarked on an ambitious artistic journey with a showcase of works premiered in the United States by the Handel and Haydn Society over the last 195 years, and the release of the first of a series of recordings on CORO leading to the 2015 Bicentennial. Christophers is founder and conductor of the UK-based choir and period instrument ensemble The Sixteen. He has directed The Sixteen throughout Europe, America, and the Far East, gaining a distinguished reputation for his work in Renaissance, Baroque, and 20th-century music. In 2000, he instituted The Sixteen's "Choral Pilgrimage," a tour of British cathedrals from York to Canterbury. With that ensemble, he has recorded close to 100 titles for which he has won numerous awards, including a Grand Prix du Disque for Handel Messiah, numerous Preise der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics Awards), the coveted Gramophone Award for Early Music, and the prestigious Classical Brit Award (2005) for his disc entitled Renaissance. In 2009, he received one of classical music's highest accolades, the Classic FM Gramophone Awards Artist of the Year Award, and The Sixteen won the Baroque Vocal Award for Handel Coronation Anthems, a CD that also received a 2010 Grammy Award nomination. Harry Christophers is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Granada Symphony Orchestra and a regular guest conductor with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the Orquestra de la Comunidad de Madrid. In October 2008, Christophers was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Leicester. Most recently, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford and also of the Royal Welsh Academy for Music and Drama.

Teresa Neff received her PhD in Musicology from Boston University. Her research interests center around Gottfried van Swieten, a late 18th-century Viennese patron and composer. Neff's edition of Swieten's symphonies will be published by Artaria later this year. She has presented papers at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society, and the Architecture/Music/Acoustics Conference. She presents concert preview lectures for Elderhostel and Boston Lyric Opera, and also teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Boston Conservatory.

Handel and Haydn Society (H&H) is a professional Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus and an internationally recognize­d leader in the field of Historically Informed Performance, a revelatory style that uses the instruments and techniques of the composer's time. Founded in Boston in 1815, H&H is the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States and has a longstanding commitment to excellence and innovation: it gave the American premieres of Handel's Messiah (1818), Haydn's The Creation (1819), Verdi's Requiem (1878), and Bach's St. Matthew Passion (1879). Handel and Haydn today, under Artistic Director Harry Christophers' leadership, is committed to its mission to perform Baroque and Classical music at the highest levels of artistic excellence and to share that music with as large and diverse an audience as possible. H&H is widely known through its local subscription series, tours, concert broadcasts on WGBH/99.5 Classical and National Public Radio, and recordings. Its recording of Sir John Tavener's Lamentations and Praises won a 2003 Grammy Award and two of its recordings, All is Bright and Peace, appeared simultaneously in the top ten on Billboard Magazine's classical music chart. In September 2010, H&H released its first collaboration with Harry Christophers on the CORO label, Mozart's Mass in C Minor-the first in a series of live commercial recordings leading to H&H's Bicentennial in 2015. The 2010-2011 Season marked the 25th anniversary of Handel and Haydn's award-winning Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program, which brings music education, vocal training, and performance opportunities to 10,000 students annually throughout Greater Boston and beyond.

Handel and Haydn Society is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Special thanks to Howard & Darcy Fuguet for underwriting the radio broadcast of the performance.

The media partner for A Bach Christmas is The Boston Globe.

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