Concert Review: Baltimore Symphony’s jazzed-up “Messiah”

Posted on: November 16, 2010

In Tuesday’s (11/16) New York Times, Steve Smith writes, “For a few weeks each December you can barely turn a corner in New York without tripping over a performance of a certain great seasonal oratorio by Handel. But ‘Messiah’ returned early and in unusual company on Sunday afternoon when the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in its second Carnegie Hall appearance of the weekend, gamely played second fiddle to a trio of starry singers, a funky rhythm section and an enormous choir of New York high school students. Marin Alsop, the orchestra’s music director, conceived ‘Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah,’ a jazzed-up, spirit-soaked 1992 arrangement of that Handel oratorio, when she led the Concordia Orchestra, an independent New York ensemble active then. Created by Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson, and supervised here by Lesley Stifelman, this brash retooling was meant to bring ‘Messiah’ to new listeners, especially young ones. … What made the event an unalloyed delight were the choristers, from Bayside and Edward R. Murrow High Schools, the Fordham High School for the Arts, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Songs of Solomon Academy for the Arts and the Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts. … This was, quite simply, some of the best choral singing I’ve heard all year.”

Posted November 16, 2010