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October 22, 2009

CW, the College of William and Mary, and Bruton Parish Church collaborate to present Handel Festival

Beethoven called him the greatest composer that ever lived. Musical performances, lectures, tours and special presentations celebrate the life and music of George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) as Colonial Williamsburg, the College of William and Mary, and at Bruton Parish Church collaborate to present the Music in the World of George Frideric Handel in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death.

Performances take place in Colonial Williamsburg’s Governor’s Palace and Art Museums, the College of William and Mary’s Wren Building and Bruton Parish Church. The festival is in two parts. The Nov. 12-14 segment features music for voices, keyboard, strings, oboe, recorder, trumpet and guitar. Tours of the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums and Historic Area and interesting lectures combine with Williamsburg’s historic spaces to create an authentic environment for the music of this celebrated composer. The festival reconvenes with a candlelight performance of the Christmas portion of “Messiah” on Dec. 11 and 12 by the Bruton Parish Choir with chamber orchestra.

Festival passes include admission to Colonial Williamsburg and all programs, some of which are not available by separate ticket. In addition to the programs available by separate ticket, festival pass holders receive a program booklet and can enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the instrument conservation lab, a concert of guitar music in Handel’s time by Timothy P. Olbrych, guitar instructor and member of the performing artist faculty at the College of William and Mary, and music by other composers from this period by the Governor’s Musick, Colonial Williamsburg's music performing ensemble. Festival tickets are $135 and can be purchased through Nov. 5. Good Neighbors can purchase a festival ticket for $99.

The list of performances during the festival includes:

  • Mr. Handel and His Singers – Nov. 12, 5 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum. This lecture recital by well-known scholar and soprano Julianne Baird explores Handel’s relationship with his singers and his own music for solo voice. Baird will illustrate her comments with selections from operas and oratorios by Handel, accompanied on the harpsichord by Thomas Marshall, lecturer of piano, organ and harpsichord at the College of William and Mary. Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund. Individual tickets: $10 adults, $5 children.
  • Evening of Concertos by Mr. Handel – Nov. 12, 8 p.m., Bruton Parish Church. Delight in an evening of oboe, harpsichord, and organ concertos by Handel. Soloists include Rebecca Davy (harpsichord); Kevin Piccini (oboe); James S. Darling (organ); and JanEl Will (organ). Individual tickets: $10 adults, $5 children.
  • Handel’s World. Nov. 13, 10:30 a.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Four historians explore various aspects of Handel’s London. Musicologist Sterling Murray describes the city’s rich musical landscape from the Chapel Royal to its theaters and pleasure gardens. Linda Baumgarten, curator of costumes and textiles, illustrates clothing of the time, and Laura Pass Barry, associate curator of prints, maps, and paintings, shows what can be learned from period print sources. Historian Emma L. Powers discuses the political, religious, and social environment in which Handel lived. The program concludes with a question-and-answer session. Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund. Individual tickets: $10 adults, $5 children.
  • Music to Remember a Queen: Handel’s Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline – Nov. 13, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., Great Hall of the Sir Christopher Wren Building. A captivating performance of Handel’s anthem, “The Ways of Zion Do Mourn,” composed for the burial of Queen Caroline in Westminster Abbey. Students from the College of William and Mary will perform under the direction of Professor Jamie Bartlett. Separate tickets: $10 adults, $5 children.
  • Palace Concert: Mr. Handel and His Rivals. Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., Governor’s Palace. An evocative candlelight concert showcases music by Handel and his contemporaries, Giovanni Bononcini, Georg Telemann and John Frederick Lampe. The Governor’s Musick, Colonial Williamsburg’s resident ensemble, will perform in period costume using original and reproduction instruments. The ensemble features musicians Jane Hanson, soprano; Herbert Watson, German flute; Wayne Moss, viola da gamba; Jennifer Edenborn and Susannah Livingston, violins; and Michael Monaco, harpsichord and chamber organ. Tickets: $12 for adults and $6 for children under 6.
  • Music Among Friends: An Evening of Chamber Music by Handel. Nov. 14, 8 p.m., Bruton Parish Church. Hear the Wren Masters, a baroque quartet composed of William and Mary faculty perform solo and trio sonatas and a harpsichord suite by Handel. Performers include Thomas A. Marshall, harpsichord; Sarah Gentry Glosson, baroque cello; Ruth van baak Griffoen, recorder; and Susan Forrester Via, baroque violin. Separate tickets: $10 adults, $5 children.
  • Messiah. Dec. 11 and 12, 8 p.m., Bruton Parish Church. First performed in 1742, Handel’s oratorio has become his most familiar masterpiece to modern audiences. This performance features the first part of the work dealing with the prophecy and nativity of Jesus and includes many of the most beloved moments of the masterpiece. Hear an introductory lecture about the performance by Sterling E. Murray, professor emeritus of music history, West Chester University, on Dec. 3 at the church’s Parish house. “Messiah” performers include: Rodney Eichenberger, conductor; Rebecca Davy and Dr. JanEl Will, harpsichord; Amy Williamson, soprano; Scott Williamson, tenor; Lynn Kotrady, contralto; and Barret Armbruster, baritone with the Bruton Parish choir accompanied by chamber orchestra. Separate tickets: $15 adults, $5 children (Note: Festival pass holders can purchase $10 tickets for this performance.)

    Individual tickets for selected concerts are available at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket location or at 1-800-HISTORY. To purchase festival tickets and Good Neighbor festival tickets before the Nov. 5 deadline, visit or phone 1-800-603-0948, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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