8 Handel events to catch in London this spring

The 2020 London Handel Festival takes “Handel and the Hanoverians” as its theme and will explore the links between Handel and the reigning Hanoverian monarchy at the time, to whom Handel dedicated much of his music, and whose patronage he enjoyed

The Festival this year will delve into the rich variety of compositional output Handel dedicated to his royal patrons, and furthermore his diplomacy in maintaining good relations with the feuding generations of the royal family at the time.

The usual packed calendar of events includes everything from grand oratorios to intimate chamber recitals, insight talks, guided walks and even a “Come and Sing” event in a range of beautiful historic venues across the capital.

 

1. Parnasso in Festa HWV 73

In 1734, Anne, the Princess Royal and eldest daughter of King George II, married Prince William IV of Orange. Anne had been one of Handel’s staunchest supporters and also his favourite harpsichord student. He not only wrote an anthem specially for the wedding service but composed Parnasso in Festa for a celebratory public performance on the eve of the ceremony.

Tuesday, March 10, Wigmore Hall, 7.30pm

Please note that all tickets for this date should be booked directly through the Wigmore Hall Box Office, either by telephone (020 7935 2141) or online

 

2. The Music Party

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In his portrait, The Music Party (1733), Philip Mercier painted George II’s four eldest children. The London Handel Players reimagine an evening of royal domestic chamber music to be performed in the stunning Picture Gallery at the Foundling Museum. 

The chamber group will perform arias from Handel’s Milton-based works, L’Allegro and Comus, as well as pieces by Leclair, who was later employed by Princess Anne, and Handel’s own flute player, Charles Weideman.

Friday, March 13, Foundling Museum, 7.30pm

 

3. Mr Handel’s Scholars

Handel was known to encourage young singers, many of whom became his star soloists and were known as “Mr Handel’s Scholars”. This concert is an opportunity to celebrate the success of the competition and to hear four past finalists who have gone on to major international careers, as well as being perfect for those audiences new to Handel who want to a variety of popular Handel pieces.

Friday, March 20, 7.30pm, St George’s, Hanover Square

 

4. Come and Sing: Coronation Anthems

Come and experience the joy of singing Handel under the inspirational leadership musical director, Laurence Cummings. Attendees can work their way through the Coronation Anthems, written specifically for the coronation of George II, including the wondrous Zadok the Priest which has been sung at every coronation since. The event will take place in St George’s, Hanover Square, Handel’s own parish church in London’s Mayfair and is accompanied by Belsize Baroque.

The “Come and Sing” events are always popular and all are welcome, although participants are asked to be able to sight read and have some choral experience. 

Saturday, March 28, from 11am, St George’s, Hanover Square

 

5. Alfred (Arne) and Ode to Saint Cecilia HWV 76

Composed within six months of each other, Handel’s Ode to St Cecilia—on Dryden’s famous text—and Arne’s Alfred—culminating in Rule Britannia—show both composers at the absolute height of their powers. 

The two works could not be more different. Handel and Dryden’s Ode envisages the creation of the universe through the order and majesty of divine harmony, whilst Arne’s masque ponders questions of mundane but immediate political importance. Alfred was first performed at Cliveden, country home of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and is considered to be a tactful lesson from Arne to the young prince on British values, focusing on the reign of Saxon King Alfred.  

Thursday April 2, 7.30pm, St George’s, Hanover Square

 

6. The Elements

Southbank Sinfonia, an orchestra of outstanding young professionals, returns to the Festival to present a Baroque feast of six composers exploring the elements of earth, wind, air and fire. The highlight of this wide-ranging programme is Handel's popular Music for the Royal Fireworks commissioned by George II.  

The programme will also include music by Vivaldi and CPE Bach. This is a perfect concert for those who are new to baroque music and want to hear a varied programme of approachable and popular pieces.  

Friday 3 April, 7.30pm, St George’s, Hanover Square

 

7. Royal Chamber Music

Acclaimed baroque group The Brook Street Band returns to the Festival with this varied hour-long programme celebrating chamber music for string instruments. London’s colourful music scene is brought to life with a selection of compositions either dedicated to Frederick, Prince of Wales, or by composers he specifically favoured. Handel’s music threads its way through the programme, a uniting force between the music of rival composers. 

Saturday 4 April, 3.30pm & 5pm, St George’s, Hanover Square

 

8. Handel Singing Competition

The internationally recognised Handel Singing Competition is now in its nineteenth year, and this year has had a record number of applicants—187 singers from over 30 countries, ranging from Australia to Argentina. Past winners have included Iestyn Davies and Lucy Crowe. You can hear the Semi-final and Final, comprising the very best emerging talent in one of the world’s leading singing competitions. Come and see if you can spot the star of tomorrow!  

Various dates, St George’s, Hanover Square

 

All tickets can be booked via the London Handel Festival website unless otherwise stated

Read more: 10 Things you didn’t know about Handel

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