View Full Version : Merry Christmas in a video from the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra

Wheat Williams
12-23-2012, 03:00 AM
Here is something you can't emulate with Garritan or any other orchestral sample library.


This is the group I work with, the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra (http://atlantabaroque.org), in concert, November 30, 2012. Authentic Baroque instruments: everything tuned to A=415; string instruments with sheep-gut, not steel, strings; harpsichord and Baroque organ in meantone temperament; Baroque oboes with open holes like a recorder; natural trumpets with no valves or vents; Baroque timpani with animal skins and no tuning pedals. Performed in the historically-informed manner, with very little vibrato.

12-23-2012, 06:44 AM
Thank you Wheat. It is refreshing to see and hear a work done as it was originally intended. I really enjoyed those trumpets. It takes a good ear and great chops to perform so well on those things.

12-23-2012, 12:27 PM
Absolutely lovely. In the UK however it is traditional,and authentic, for the aduience to stand, I noticed only two people stand and quickly sit.

On March 23, 1743, The Messiah, written by George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759) in 1741, was performed for the 1st time in London, England. Present was the King of England. The king was so moved by the singing of the “Hallelujah Chorus,” he spontaneously stood to his feet and remained standing until the end of Handel’s masterpiece. (And when the king stands up, EVERYBODY stands up.) Ever since that day, it has been customary for the audience to stand whenever the “Hallelujah Chorus” is sung.

You'll all know next time then, oh you're all republicans (note the small case r) :)

It was beautiful, brings tears to the eyes.

Happy Christmas

Wheat Williams
12-23-2012, 02:04 PM
This video is from the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra's performance of Handel's original score from the Dublin debut performance in 1742, in its entirety. Many of the solo arias are quite different than the ones he used in later concerts and which have become more "standard". We didn't completely recreate the event, as Handel used all boy altos and sopranos in the chorus for this concert, and probably had a somewhat smaller chorus and a somewhat larger orchestra.

The artistic director and concertmaster of the Atlanta Baroque is Dr. Julie Andrijeski, one of the most renowned Baroque violin soloists in the USA and the world. She teaches at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Our four soloists were flown in from the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, and our 19 instrumentalists came from all across the USA. Only three members of this orchestra actually live in Georgia. The orchestra is composed mostly of musicians who hold doctorates and faculty positions at university music schools with programs in early music and Baroque music, and they are all nationally-recognized specialists in the field of historical performance of Baroque music. The choir joining us this time is the Chamber Choir of Georgia Tech (the Georgia Institute of Technology) and they are very good considering that Georgia Tech does not actually have a music degree--all these young people are studying disciplines like engineering or computer science.

As for standing during the Hallelujah Chorus, we actually asked the audience not to do that, but a lot of people in the back of the church stood anyway, God bless 'em!

12-23-2012, 02:43 PM
An excellent performance and quality recording!

Many performances of Handel's Messiah are only the first two parts that end with the Hallelujah chorus or even just the greatest hits selections. Many people think the third part is the best which has sort of gotten lost over time.

This work has really been butchered by even prominent orchestras for the sake of boosting ticket sales. I've seen some performances on YouTube which make you cringe with disgust.

Handel's Messiah is a oratorio and really needs to be understood by the audience as an opera of sorts and performed from the beginning to the end. Amen is my favorite piece but I only have sung the first two parts before I had to drop out of the choir. I found He trusted in God that he would deliver him to be the most difficult to sing, at least for the baritone/basses. If you don't count measures you'll get lost for sure and everyone prays, especially the conductor, that they all end together.

The choir here is contemplating actually working some operatic elements into the Messiah for next years performance.

Thanks for posting!


12-24-2012, 12:52 PM
Wheat - This is absolutely sublime! Good heavens, it's great. When done well, it can be such a treat to hear music performed on historically accurate instruments. The authentic tuning alone has such a charm, always sounding a bit "out of tune" to ears accustomed to modern tuning. The squeakier strings, the uncertain pitch of the animal skin tympani - all of it is so fun to hear. I'm looking forward to playing this for my wife when she gets home later today.

Derek "Buckshead," thanks for the historical background on the traditional standing ovation this receives in the UK. Wheat, in response, you said, "...As for standing during the Hallelujah Chorus, we actually asked the audience not to do that..."---Good heavens, why?--- Even before reading Derek's post, I was so struck by the relative reserve of the audience's reaction in the video. I was wondering,--why in the world aren't they standing?--Hmmm.

THANK YOU tremendously for this, Wheat!


12-24-2012, 06:47 PM
I showed the video to my 14 year old daughter who had just performed this piece with a combined orchestra, symphonic band & choir at her high school. I was just telling her that the original had trumpets without valves and no keys on the woodwinds a couple days ago. She was able to see these authentic instruments play it which is much better than words to describe.

BTW, excellent performance!