For 60 years, the Philadelphia Orchestra has performed Handel's Messiah for the holidays. This year, the tradition continues.
"It's a piece of great variety and textures," says Jeremy Rothman, The Philadelphia Orchestra's Vice President of Artistic Planning. "It's always changing; it's always a journey."
The English-language oratorio was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and it's now one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral pieces in western music.
"It has the famous Hallelujah chorus in it, of course," Rothman says, "The great Amen that concludes the incredible oratorical work."
This year, music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will be conducting.
"Yannick is able to bring a freshness, a liveliness, a joy to these performances," Rothman says. "Any time Yannick leads this sort of repertoire with the orchestra, it's always a really special event."
In its full strength, the orchestra has more than 100 musicians but, Rothman says, this piece requires a more intimate ensemble to truly capture its essence. "It's more of a Baroque-style orchestra so the string section is a little smaller. There's harpsichord. There's organ."
And every performance is a little bit different. "Because it's the notes between the notes," Rothman says.
Four world-renowned soloists will join the Orchestra on stage.
"We have an international cast of soloists. Yannick as the music director of the Metropolitan Opera has relationships with all the greatest vocal talent of the world and he always brings the greatest singers right here to Philadelphia," Rothman says.
The ensemble will be backed by the Westminster Symphonic Choir.
"The sound and the colors they create in this repertoire are so special and it will really captivate you over the course of the performance," Rothman promises. "It's an annual tradition for a reason. People love to come every single year with friends and family, even sing along from their seats and enjoy this incredible holiday tradition."
The Philadelphia Orchestra: Yannick Conducts Messiah
Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 8 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 9 at 2 p.m.
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Verizon Hall
300 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
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The Philly Orchestra presents Yannick Conducts Messiah
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