Thursday, November 26, 2009

Handel’s “Messiah” to air in Taipei and Taichung as NTSO's special tribute to master composer

By Nancy T. Lu
Get ready for the power, lyricism and profundity of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” as the year devoted to the commemoration of the German-born composer’s 250th death anniversary approaches a finale.

Chen Zuo-huang, the artistic director of the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing and of the Incheon Philharmonic Orchestra in South Korea, has been invited to conduct the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra (NTSO) and the New Era Chorale during the third series of the “Tribute to the Masters.”.

The two performances of the oratorio will take place at the Zuo.Yue Hall in Taipei at 2:30 p.m. on November 29 and at the Chung Hsing Hall in Taichung at 7:30 p.m. on November 30.

Soprano Lin Ching-ju, mezzo-soprano Chen Pei-chi, tenor Teng Chi-long and bass Liau Chong-boon will be the featured soloists.

Handel, who was not a religious composer in the accepted sense, wrote “Messiah” in just 24 days, pointed out Chen. This was a few years after his recovery from a stroke. The musical creation went on to become an outstanding example of devotional art.

Of Handel’s most well-loved baroque composition, Chen Zuo-huang (shown with NTSO director Liu Suan-yung in photo) admitted to the flexibility of the formation of the orchestra and the chorus. But “the least controversial version” has been picked this time. Chen’s intention is “to stay faithful to Handel’s music.”

As conductor, Chen has been a great admirer of Seiji Ozawa. He, a classmate of composer Tan Dun, first met the maestro when he visited China in 1978. The following year, Ozawa brought the Boston Symphony to China. Chen became one of the first Chinese musicians to receive a scholarship for further music education abroad in the post-Cultural Revolution period in Chinese history. Chen was personally invited by Ozawa to Tanglewood for his music training.

Chen recalled learning from Ozawa that there should be no room for mistake during a rehearsal. In short, all mistakes should be corrected during the rehearsal stage of the concert preparation.

Admission to the Taipei concert will be free. Call tel. (04)23391141 ext. 153. The Zuo Yue Hall is located on the second floor of the Center of the Central Personnel Administration at 30 Xinsheng South Road, Sec. 3, Taipei.

Tickets to the Taichung concert cost from NT$300 to NT$1,000.

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