Friday, 30 November 2018

Original Handel

St George's Church, Hanover Square in 1787
St George's Church, Hanover Square in 1787
George Frideric Handel was very much a London composer, yet rather frustratingly there are few venues in modern London which can be associated with the premieres of Handel's music. 

Theatres burn down and are re-built, and rather frustratingly the chapel of the Foundling Hospital, which was used for annual performances of Messiah, was demolished in the 1930s. In fact, the only location of a premiere of one of Handel's operas or oratorios to survive seems to be the Sheldonian in Oxford where Handel premiered Athalia. Instead we have his house, which is now a lively museum, and sacred spaces associated with him, such as St Paul's Cathedral and the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace. But the closest relationship is with St George's Church, Hanover Square, which was Handel's parish church.

St George's is not strictly a space where Handel would have expected to hear his oratorios, during his lifetime these were largely secular pieces, and frankly the performing space at St George's Church is not really ideal. But to hear Handel's music in a venue so closely associated with him remains highly evocative. On Thursday 6 December 2018, the London Handel Festival is presenting its annual performance of Handel's Messiah at St George's Church. Simon Williams conducts the choir of St George's Church, Hanover Square and the London Handel Orchestra, with soloists Lauren Lodge-Campbell, Alexandra Gibson,  Alexander Sprague and Trevor Bowes, three of whom are past finalists in the festival's Handel Singing Competition.

Full detatils from the London Handel Festival website.

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