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Boston Baroque presents Handel’s Messiah, an annual holiday favorite

November 6, 2017

For immediate release
Press Contact: Stephanie Janes, (617) 419-0445,

December 8-9, 2017 | NEC’s Jordan Hall

Download high resolution photos | Download photos of guest artists
Hallelujah Chorus video (2016) | Messiah highlights video (2015)

The Grammy-nominated
Boston Baroque Orchestra and Chorus presents Handel’s Messiah in NEC’s Jordan Hall (30 Gainsborough St, Boston, MA 02115) on December 8-9 at 7:30pm. The orchestra will be conducted by Music Director Martin Pearlman and joined by vocal soloists soprano Ava Pine, mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy in her Boston Baroque debut, tenor Aaron Sheehan, and baritone Stephen Powell.

Tickets are $25-$90 and may be purchased at or by phone at 617-987-8600.

Martin Pearlman has made Handel’s Messiah an annual tradition since 1981, though no two performances are the same. He achieves a new approach each year, finding new nuances in the music, and alluring audiences to return. His “particular balancing of chorus and orchestra, the zippy tempos chosen, and the sharply etched rhythmic detail” (Boston Globe) have become his signatures. Read his full program notes online.

“I personally have found it satisfying to return to the work each year not so much to perform different versions of it or to consciously try to do something “different,” but rather to discover more details and greater depth in the music,” says Pearlman. “For me, that is what makes it perpetually “new.” A work such as Messiah is inexhaustible.”

About the Program

In Messiah, as in many of his other works, Handel made numerous changes for later performances. Many of these changes were made simply to accommodate a new singer, such as changing an aria from one voice range to another, and do not necessarily reflect his final preference for how a movement ought to go. Other changes, however, appear to be attempts to improve the work and must be taken into account in a modern performance. There is no definitive version. A modern performer must look at the various versions presented in the different manuscripts (sometimes there is more than one version in the same manuscript), try to understand the reasons for the changes, and make decisions about the best version to use.

Handel’s autograph score survives, and, while it contains the original version of the work, he seems to have changed his mind about certain pieces even before the first performance. At least as important as the autograph is a score which Handel apparently used at the 1742 Dublin premiere and in certain later performances. It is in the hand of Handel’s copyist, but Handel himself has made many changes and marginal notes, including writing in names of singers. A third important version is a manuscript, again by a copyist, bequeathed by Handel in his will to the Foundling Hospital, for which he had given benefit concerts. This Foundling Hospital score appears never to have been used, but with it there is a valuable set of orchestral and vocal parts which formed the basis for many of his later performances. There are other sources, but these three — the autograph, Dublin and Foundling Hospital — have the greatest authority from Handel’s own performances.

Martin Pearlman, Conductor and Music Director

Martin Pearlman is the founder, music director, and conductor of the orchestra and chorus of the three-time Grammy-nominated Boston Baroque, now widely regarded as being “Some of the finest American interpreters of music of this era,” according to Fanfare Magazine. Pearlman leads Boston Baroque in an annual subscription concert series in Greater Boston, tours in the United States and Europe, and has produced twenty-two major recordings. Hailed for his “fresh, buoyant interpretations” and his “vivid realizations teeming with life,” Pearlman has been acclaimed for over forty years in the orchestral, choral and operatic repertoire from Monteverdi to Beethoven.

Ava Pine, soprano

Soprano Ava Pine, returns to Boston Baroque this season while continuing to dazzle audiences and critics with her rewarding vocalism and compelling commitment to character throughout the United States.  She is applauded for creating vivid and captivating portraits on stage. Equally at home with opera, oratorio or recital works ranging from the baroque to the contemporary, Opera News writes: “Ava Pine…all but stole the show. By turns seductive, determined, wounded, and she sailed through a vast range of pitches.”

Ava was a Grammy Nominee (Best Opera Recording) for her work in a period instrument recording with Ars Lyrica of Houston. In addition to her performances with Boston Baroque she is a frequent collaborator with UNT Baroque Collegium, Ars Lyrica, Dallas Symphony, Austin Symphony and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Paula Murrihy, mezzo-soprano

Making her Boston Baroque debut, Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy has appeared both in the United States and internationally with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, London’s Royal Opera House, Teatro Comunale, Bologna, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Oper Frankfurt, Dutch National Opera, Oper Stuttgart, Opera de Nice, Chicago Opera Theater, Handel & Haydn Society, English National Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the 16/17 season.

An accomplished recitalist, Ms. Murrihy was invited to participate in the Marilyn Horne Foundation Masterclass Series at Carnegie Hall, New York; and has performed at the Aldeburgh Festival, UK; New York Festival of Song; as well as with the Irish Chamber Orchestra in the Shannon International Music Festival.

Murrihy has been a Young Artist with the Britten-Pears program, in addition to Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Merola /San Francisco Opera Center, and Tanglewood Music Center. She holds a Master in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory.

Aaron Sheehan, tenor

Grammy award-winning American tenor Aaron Sheehan performs regularly with Boston Baroque, and has established himself as a first-rate singer in many styles ranging from oratorio and chamber music, to the opera stage.  He regularly performs in the United States, South America and Europe.  He sang the title role in Boston Early Music Festival’s recording of Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers which won Best Opera Recording at the 2015 Grammy Awards.

Known especially for his Baroque interpretations, Aaron Sheehan’s voice has been described by the Boston Globe as “superb: his tone classy, clear, and refined, encompassing fluid lyricism and ringing force” and the Washington Post praised his “Polished, lovely tone.”

On the concert stage, Aaron Sheehan enjoys a reputation as a first rate interpreter of the oratorios and cantatas of Bach and Handel and the oratorios and masses of Mozart. The San Diego Classical Voice said, “Tenor Aaron Sheehan performed the role of Evangelist, and sang with assured vocal and linguistic fluency, tasked with telling the audience the story while imparting its drama. In this regard, he was superb.”

A native of Minnesota, Aaron Sheehan holds a BA from Luther College and a MM in Early Voice Performance from Indiana University. He is currently on the voice faculties of Boston University, Wellesley College, and Towson University.

Stephen Powell, baritone

Returning to Boston Baroque, the dynamic American baritone Stephen Powell brings his “rich, lyric baritone, commanding presence, and thoughtful musicianship” (Wall Street Journal) to a wide range of music, from Monteverdi and Handel through Verdi and Puccini to Sondheim and John Adams. Opera magazine has hailed him, writing “the big news was Stephen Powell’s gorgeously-sung Onegin: rock solid, with creamy legato from top to bottom and dynamics smoothly tapered but never exaggerated.”

Stephen Powell’s concert career has seen him perform as with such notable organizations as the San Francisco, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee, Detroit, Nashville, Philadelphia, Dallas, Ottawa, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Phoenix symphony orchestras, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich.

Mr. Powell has sung under the distinguished batons of such noted conductors as Andrew Litton, Charles Dutoit, Leonard Slatkin, Edo de Waart, Grant Llewellyn, Antony Walker, Carlos Kalmar, David Zinman, and Michael Tilson Thomas. He created the role of Felipe Nuñez in the world premiere of The Conquistador with San Diego Opera, and performed and recorded Bach’s Magnificat with Boston Baroque. Mr. Powell is an alumnus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Center for American Artists.

Information for Calendar Listings:

Boston Baroque: Handel Messiah
Friday, Dec. 8 and Saturday, Dec. 9 | 7:30pm
NEC’s Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St, Boston, MA 02115
Tickets: $25-$90 |
617.987.8600 |

“Striving for a fresh Messiah year after year” says the Boston Globe. This annual tradition will feature soprano Ava Pine, Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy (in her Boston Baroque debut), tenor Aaron Sheehan and baritone Stephen Powell, alongside the Grammy nominated Boston Baroque Orchestra and Chorus. Conducted by Martin Pearlman, Music Director.



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