Review: ‘Handel’s Messiah; with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Strathmore

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George Frideric Handel’s Messiah was first performed during Easter in Dublin close to 275 years ago, and I saw why it has become an annual Christmas tradition. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with the Concert Artists of Baltimore delivered a tremendous performance at The Music Center at Strathmore bringing the Christmas spirit to all in who attended.

The BSO’s guest singers Jennifer O’Laughlin (Soprano), Dana Moore (Mezzo Soprano), Nicholas Phan (Tenor), Sidney Outlaw (Bass Baritone), and Baltimore Symphonic Chorale expertly performed together to deliver a passionate performance of Handel’s masterpiece.

Conductor Edward Polochick. Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Conductor Edward Polochick, joked, “I literally broke my leg!” as he hobbled on crutches and had his left leg up on a chair while conducting. He expertly guided the chorale and musicians through the classical masterpiece with his wild gesticulating hands. It’s incredible watching someone so in tune with the music.

The operatic superpowers and the chorale lent their powerful vocals to the performance. Manhattan School of Music trained American soprano O’Loughlin soared to new heights with during her last solo as if she was reaching for the heavens. She sang, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The chorale then took up the refrain in a dramatic fashion.

British and statuesque Mezzo Soprano Moore’s voice shone. Julliard trained, American Sidney Outlaw deep bass led gravitas to the Biblical passages as he gazed heavenward and articulated every note. Tenor Phan  filled the hall with his glorious tenor voice.

The Concert Artists of Baltimore. Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The Chorale of over 100 singers blended effortlessly echoing each other back and forth throughout the piece. The coolest part was toward the end when they used their music books over the mouths to soften their sound then lowered them and exploded into song.

The BSO commanded the stage through all three part of Handel’s Messiah complementing the chorale and opera singers.

During Part I For unto us a Child is born,” shone. During Part II Surely He hath borne our griefs,” was filled with gorgeous harmonies. During Part III “Since by man came death” and “Hallelujah” brought a collective dopamine high.

During “Hallelujah” the whole audience stood mesmerized by the uplifting and high-energy refrain. Special mention to trumpeter Andrew Balio and timpanist James Wyman for their outstanding playing.

The powerful performance of the BSO received a well-deserved standing ovation.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed  Handel’s Messiah on December 3rd, 2016, at The Music Center at Strathmore – 5301 North Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For future events, go to the Strathmore’s calendar of events.

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