November 6 - 8, 1998


by Richard G. King

In his introduction to the 1982 Maryland Handel Festival Program Book, Howard Serwer, the former Associate Director and one of the founders of the Festival, noted our goal: to perform all of Handel's English oratorios in order of composition and in a form that reflects present understanding of how Handel's music was given in the first performance under his direction. The Maryland Handel Festival began this imposing task that year with a performance of Esther. In 1990 Mr. Serwer noted further that we would present Jephtha, the last of the series, in 2000. We are still on course, and we plan to perform both Theodora and Jephtha in November 2000 in the new Maryland Center for the Performing Arts. For this, the steadfast support of the University of Maryland, which has continued to fund this Herculean undertaking, is largely responsible, and it is appropriate to begin here with our thanks to the University.

This year, for the first time, the Festival presents two of Handel's oratorios in one weekend: Alexander Balus and Joshua. As usual, we have benefited from the assistance of many people, but special thanks are due to Donald Burrows and Anthony Hicks for musicological assistance with the preparation of the music performed here, and to Denys Darlow for generously providing orchestral parts for Alexander Balus used in the London Handel Festival's performances. It is a measure of the international character of the Maryland Handel Festival that all three are well-known Handelians. A further measure is the presence of the editorial board of the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe, the critical edition of Handel's works based in Halle, his birthplace, and published by Bärenreiter.

In conjunction with the performances, the Maryland Handel Festival presents a scholarly conference, and it is a pleasure to record the Festival's thanks to the American Handel Society for its assistance in putting this conference together. The conference sessions themselves bring together scholars from all over America and England as well, and this year a particularly wide range of disciplinary approaches to Handel's life and music promises to foster stimulating discussion.

Finally, this is our first Festival since Howard Serwer retired as Associate Director, and it is fitting to acknowledge his essential role in the creation and nurturing of the Maryland Handel Festival by dedicating our performance of Joshua to him.


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