Carrying on the Houston legacy of holiday seasons past, The Houston Symphony will perform Handel's Messiah tonight, December 21 and the 22nd and 23rd at Jones Hall.
Handel's Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel. Taken from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, the text of the work was compiled by Charles Jennen. The piece was premiered to a tepid reception in Europe, but since has come to be one of the most well loved and frequently performed choral works in Western music. Calling forth images of Jesus Christ's nativity, passion, resurrection and ascension, Handel's Messiah begins with God's promises as spoken by the prophets and ending with Christ's glorification in heaven.
Vocalists joining the Houston Symphony include GillIan Keith, soprano; Jay Carter, countertenor; Chad Shelton, tenor; Brian Mulligan, baritone; and the Houston Symphony Chorus, led by Charles Hausmann.
This Symphony Special performance takes place in Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St., Houston, Texas.
SYMPHONY SPECIAL CONCERTS
Friday, December 21, 2012, 8:00pm
Saturday, December 22, 2012, 8:00pm
Sunday, December 23, 2012, 2:30pm
Matthew Halls, conductor
GillIan Keith, soprano
Jay Carter, countertenor
Chad Shelton, tenor
Brian Mulligan, baritone
Houston Symphony Chorus
Charles Hausmann, director
Tickets from $29
Matthew Halls has made his mark as one of today's leading young conductors, having made significant debuts in the United States with the Houston Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Detroit Symphony, and in Europe with the Tonkünstler Orchestra, Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Berlin Radio Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Iceland Symphony, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. In 2011, he was named Artistic Director designate of the Oregon Bach Festival to replace founding director Helmuth Rilling following the 2013 Festival.
Halls' eclectically designed orchestral programs span centuries, juxtaposing diverse composers such as Byrd, Britten, Gesualdo and Schoenberg. He also has an avowed passion for the 19th century Germanic and 20th century British repertoires, which he will be exploring in highly-anticipated returns to the Oregon Bach Festival, Colorado Symphony, National Symphony, RTE Dublin and the Bergen Philharmonic in the coming season. Forthcoming North American debuts include the Seattle and Columbus Symphonies, and a two-week engagement with the Minnesota Orchestra.
In addition to his symphonic engagements, he's been a guest conductor with Colorado's Central City Opera for three successive summers, directing a premiere of his own edition of Handel's opera Amadigi di Gaula in 2011, Puccini's Madame Butterfly in 2010 and Handel's Rinaldo for his 2009 debut.
He is the founding director of the Retrospect Ensemble, which is in the vanguard of performance-practice groups with an annual series in London's famed Wigmore Hall. Other appearances for the ensemble range from the Edinburgh International Festival to the Krakow Festival of Polish Music and a relationship with the Korean National Opera.
About Gillian Kieth, soprano
GillIan Keith has emerged as one of Canada's leading lyric sopranos. Her superb voice and musicianship are at home both on the opera stage and on the concert platform‚ making her one of the most stylish and versatile artists of her generation.
A past winner of the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Award‚ she made her Royal Opera‚ Covent Garden debut as Zerbinetta in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos and has gone on to repeat the role with great success at Ópera de Oviedo and Welsh National Opera. Appearances this season and beyond include Philine in Thomas's Mignon‚ Iphis in Jephtha, Sylvie in Gounod's La Colombe‚ Tytania in A Midsummer Night's Dream‚ Tigrane in Radamisto and the Angel in Handel's La Resurrezione with Ars Lyrica Houston.
This season's concert performances include a Ferrier Centenary Concert at the Wigmore Hall‚ Knussen's Symphony No. 2 with the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall‚ St Matthew Passion with Handel and Haydn Society in Boston and King of Egypt with the BBC Philharmonic.
She has performed in concert throughout North America and Europe under leading conductors, including Sir John Eliot Gardiner‚ Daniele Gatti‚ Sir Richard Armstrong‚ Peter Schreier‚ Richard Hickox‚ Gianandrea Noseda‚ Harry Christophers and Sir Mark Elder.
About Jay Carter, countertenor
American countertenor Jay Carter is quickly gaining recognition as one of the nation's finest, lauded for his luminous tone and stylish interpretations in the music of Bach, Handel and Purcell. A frequent collaborator with both period and modern ensembles, Carter is nationally recognized as a leading interpreter of late Baroque repertoire. He has also gained acclaim for recital programs of modern classics by composers such as Brahms, Britten, Schubert, and Hahn, a genre typically outside the standard countertenor repertoire.
Carter made his Carnegie Hall debut in Messiah with Musica Sacra/Kent Tritle and recently made his Kennedy Center Debut with The National Symphony under the baton of Matthew Halls in Messiah. Recent appearances include Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the American Bach Soloists, Handel's Messiah with the National Symphony, Handel's Saul with Musica Vocale and the Kansas City Baroque Constortium, Bach's B minor Mass with the Choir of St. Thomas Church New York and the North American premiere of John Tavener's Lament for Jerusalem with the Choral Arts Society of Washington. He has worked with noted conductors including Simon Carrington, Arnold Epley, John Scott, Sir Philip Ledger, Nicholas McGegan and Helmuth Rilling. In the coming season Carter will make his Cleveland Orchestra debut under the baton of Ton Koopman as well as return engagements with The Kingsbury Ensemble, The Houston Symphony, The Choir of St. Thomas Church New York.
Carter is increasingly in demand as a guest lecturer on countertenor technique and repertory, frequently offering unique interactive lecture-recitals and master classes. He received a Masters in Music from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, where he studied with James Taylor, Simon Carrington and Judith Malafronte, and was singled out for the Louise E. McClain scholarship. He received his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College, where he studied voice with Arnold Epley. Carter was a 2008 regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He lives in Liberty, Missouri with his wife and two children, and serves as artist-in-residence at William Jewell College mentoring undergraduate music students.