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Classical 101

Classical 101 Airs An Accidental Handel Festival Sunday

George Frideric Handel
Painting by Thomas Hudson
Wikimedia Commons
George Frideric Handel

“Too much of a good thing is wonderful,” Mae West said.

Even I wasn’t around when West immortalized that line in 1932. Even so, it’s a motto of mine, for better or for worse – be it pizza, Gatorade or music.

That’s a good thing since the intricacies of scheduling radio broadcasts weeks in advance have defeated me this coming weekend. Or maybe not.

I had long planned to present the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Chorus’ recent performance of George Frideric Handel's Messiah, on our regular Classical 101 Columbus Symphony broadcast series. The series resumed this month and airs Sunday afternoons at 1.

I generally present the concert season in order, beginning with CSO's opening night in late fall to be heard on the first broadcast in early spring. By this logic, Messiah, the fourth Classical series presentation of 2018-19, airs this Sunday afternoon. Right?

Right. We are all set to hear Messiah this Sunday afternoon at 1, recorded by Ed Thompson in the Ohio Theatre last November. Rossen Milanov conducts our Columbus Symphony and Chorus, with the chorus conducted by Ronald J. Jenkins. It was a splendid performance and will be heard Sunday afternoon by many more than those who could fit in the Ohio Theatre.

It’s all good.


Now then. This performance of Messiah was already broadcast, last Christmas Eve. I asked for and obtained two broadcasts out of this performance. It's perfect for Christmas Eve, and only too late did I realize that it would be perfect for Easter Sunday. Handel, after all intended Messiah primarily for Easter.

Did I pay close attention to the calendar? I did not. Last week’s Easter Sunday Columbus Symphony broadcast was a terrific program with violinist Rachel Barton Pine and conductor David Boico. It was glorious, but there was not a “Hallelujah” in sight or on air.

Messiah airs this Sunday. OK, we’ll call it a special for Orthodox Easter which, after all, is April 28.  

Hearing Messiah on Easter Sunday would be perfect. Hearing Messiah a week later is wonderful. Still, I could have planned better for Easter Sunday. This Columbus Symphony performance, played and sung by your neighbors, is beautiful.

Wait, there’s more!

Musica Sacra is our Sunday evening program of sacred music. Working on this weekly broadcast is very dear to me. I like to program a large-scale oratorio when I can, usually for the last Sunday of the month.

So in January, when I was planning Musica Sacra for April (still with me?), I happily chose Handel’s Saul, a three-hour special, for April 28. (There’s an anthem by Pavel Chesnokov too, for Orthodox Easter.) I wrote it down, began to listen to Rene Jacob’s performance, enjoyed it all and went on my merry way.

Did I pay attention to the calendar? Again, I did not.

Long story short, we’re having an unofficial Handel Festival on Classical 101 this Sunday, on Orthodox Easter! Hear Messiah at 1 p.m. with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, then Saul at 8 p.m. on Musica Sacra.

Saul preceded Messiah by three years. It tells the story of young David at the court of King Saul. When you’re an elderly warrior and the new, buff, handsome hero comes along, well, it's fine to be magnanimous. It’s better theater to be jealous and vengeful.

Thus, we’ll hear Handel at his dramatic best in Saul, complete with a flying javelin and the famous "Dead March."

If Easter Sunday would have been a better fit, and perhaps a few weeks in between oratorios beneficial, look at it this way: We get to have a (sort of) festival. Too much of a good thing is … great!

Hear the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform Handel's Messiah at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 28 on Classical 101. Then later that evening, tune in at 8 p.m. to catch Handel's Saul during Musica Sacra.

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.
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