It’s a by now familiar state of, if not bliss, then at least deep contentment: listening to “Messiah,” first performed 280 years ago and ever since performed by one orchestra and choral group or another around the world whose members raise their voices to the celestial vision George Frideric Handel was setting to music from the words of the King James Bible as rendered by his librettist and friend Charles Jennens.
I’ve heard the work live probably 10 times, sung along with it (gamely!) several more when performances presented that option to audience members, and listened/sung with recordings countless more.
And so it was again earlier this month at the annual kickoff to the Christmas season at Duke University Chapel.
So identified with the oratorio is Handel that his last name is attached to the work almost inseparably in every performance or recording you’ll ever come across—never just the official ...Read More