November 11-13, 1983


by Howard Serwer

On Saturday, March 12, 1733, in the Kings Theatre in the Haymarket, George Frideric Handel presented his second English Oratorio, Deborah. In 1983, the 250th anniversary of the work's premiere, the Maryland Handel Festival presents Deborah as we continue our ambitious (some would say foolhardy) plan to perform all of Handel's English oratorios in order of composition. It is part of our plan to produce each of the works in the form in which Handel himself first presented it. Accordingly, the version we present at this year's Festival is as close as we can make it to what that London audience might have heard 250 years ago.

Because one must usually wait years to hear a live performance of such a rarity, Deborah is unknown to all but the most ardent and experienced Handelians. This is a pity, because the work contains some wonderful airs, and many very fine choruses. Indeed, depending on how one counts, Deborah contains no less than fifteen choruses. Another feature of Deborah, discussed several times in this booklet, is the fact that Handel borrowed much of its music from his own works. The composition which contributed more music to Deborah than any other is Chandos Anthem IX, O Praise the Lord With One Consent. We decided to perform this anthem in our Friday evening concert so that our audience can hear it as it was originally conceived, and then on Sunday in its various guises as part of Deborah.

For the first time, this year's Maryland Handel Festival will present a Young Artist Recital in Tawes Recital Hall on the College Park Campus. Under the supervision of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and our distinguished voice faculty, selected students will perform various works by Handel and his contemporaries. The recital will give the students, all of whom have great talent and serious professional ambitions, a chance to gain valuable experience by performing this music before a discriminating public. The public, in turn will be able to hear works, both well known and rarely heard, done in the intimate setting of our Recital Hall. In keeping with our role as an educational institution, we plan to make these Young Artist Recitals a permanent feature of the Maryland Handel Festival.

The Smithsonian Chamber Players, in their second year of association with the Maryland Handel Festival, perform on what are sometimes called "original instruments," that is to say winds, strings, and keyboard instruments which were either built in the first half of the eighteenth century or which are carefully made replicas of such instruments. The instruments produce a sound which is at once lighter, clearer, and softer than that produced by the instruments' modern counterparts. The Smithsonian Chamber Players used these instruments in the first concert of the 1982 Festival, and the performance was so well received that we decided that they should use them for both the Friday and Sunday performances. The members of the orchestra are all experts in the performance of eighteenth-century music and have come to prefer performing this repertoire on the old instruments rather than on modern ones.

Once again, we are pleased to announce that Prof. Paul Henry Lang, author of the much-acclaimed biography of Handel and for many years the Editor-in-Chief of The Musical Quarterly, will present an informal talk before the first and third concerts. Because the Saturday evening concert is jointly sponsored with University Community Concerts, Prof. Lang will join a distinguished group of colleagues for a seminar on Saturday. Prof. Lang's talk on Friday and the seminar on Saturday will begin at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday's talk will begin at 2:15 p.m. All three events will take place in Room 1400 of Marie Mount Hall (directly across Chapel Drive from the Chapel), and each will last about thirty minutes. Seating is limited; admission is by presentation of the appropriate concert ticket. The generous support of Washington Friends of Handel has made the lectures possible. The Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies at the University of Maryland College Park, is the sponsor of the seminar.

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