Handel Choir History
. . . sublime music, captivating performances
Handel Choir of Baltimore was founded by singers who performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1934. Interested in promoting and performing classical choral-orchestral music, the original members chose Handel as their namesake and Messiah for their first performance, inaugurating an annual performance tradition which has continued uninterrupted.
The Choir has presented masterpieces of the choral and choral-orchestral repertoire as well as music new to Baltimore audiences. Rather than performing in a fixed venue, the Choir is proud to present subscription concerts in a variety of concert halls, churches and synagogues throughout the metropolitan area. Frequent informal performances during the year include concerts for retirement communities, civic events and educational programs. The Handel Choir vocal ensemble is a community-based auditioned ensemble of forty to fifty singers, each of whom pays dues and purchases his/her own music for the privilege of singing.
From 2000 to 2008, Handel Choir sponsored the Handel Children’s Choir educational program and worked with the After School AKAdemy at Arena Players. The Handel Period Instrument Orchestra, employing the use of historical period instruments for performances of baroque, classical and early romantic music, was introduced in 2004 with the appointment of Melinda O’Neal as artistic director & conductor.
In 2006 the Handel Choir formed the Chandos Singers, an ensemble named after the Duke of Chandos, one of Handel’s earliest patrons when he moved to London from Germany. This ensemble includes singers selected from the larger Handel Choir membership, augmented on occasion and depending on the repertoire, with professional guest vocal and instrumental soloists.
January 2007 marked the release of Handel Choir’s commercial recording on the Dorian recording label of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast in collaboration with the Bach Sinfonia of Washington, D.C. In February 2008, Handel Choir joined with Baltimore Chamber Orchestra to première Requiem for the Fallen by Jonathan Leshnoff. Handel Choir was honored to be selected to perform in the American Choral Directors Association 2010 convention in Philadelphia.
Photos by Will Kirk