Enjoy a free download of six selections from a live audio recording of Handel's Messiah, from performances by the Folger Consort and the Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford, at the National Building Museum, Washington, DC, December 20, 21, and 22, 1993. Featuring Drew Minter, Ann Monoyios, and William Sharp.
Considered one of the nation’s leading early music ensembles and a prominent element in the cultural landscape of the nation’s Capital, Folger Consort has been at the forefront of the Washington area’s distinguished tradition of chamber music for 30 years. With more than twelve commercially available recordings and the experience of more than 750 local and touring performances, Folger Consort has contributed substantially to the interest in and knowledge of medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music and as resident ensemble at the Folger Shakespeare Library, has shared the resources of one of the world’s great collections.
These six selections from Handel's Messiah were produced as part of a worldwide celebration of the 400th anniversary of one of the most widely read and printed books in the history of the English language, the King James Bible. They complement an exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library: Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible and its accompanying website, www.manifoldgreatness.org, which draw from the resources of the Folger Shakespeare Library and Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, with the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.
Composed in London in three weeks in the late summer of 1741, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is surely the most enduringly popular and widely known musical work shaped by the King James Bible. Most of its text consists of passages from the King James Bible. Only lines from the psalms are from a different source, the Book of Common Prayer, which incorporates Miles Coverdale’s translations from the 1539 Great Bible.
Handel’s librettist, Charles Jennens, often used lines from the King James Bible word for word, although he sometimes made small changes to fit the assembled passages together. The idea of a “Scripture Collection,” as Jennens modestly called it, was not unique to Messiah, but the concept reached new heights in the oratorio’s complex narrative, which weaves together Old and New Testament texts. Today, Messiah performances are a ubiquitous tradition in the United States and other countries, offering an annual, full-throated exposure to the language of the King James Bible with all the energy of live performance.
For more on Handel's Messiah and the King James Bible, visit www.manifoldgreatness.org
For more on Folger Consort, visit www.folger.edu/consort
Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-class center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. It is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500–1750). Learn more at www.folger.edu.
To learn more about Folger Consort, visit www.folger.educonsort or contact the division of Public Programs at Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St., SE, Washington, DC 20003, 202.544.7077, fax 202.544.7520.
Michael Witmore, Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
Janet Alexander Griffin, Artistic Producer
Donnajean Ward, Manager, Folger Consort
Recorded and archived by Curt Wittig, edited and mastered with the assistance of Mary Gottlieb.