Glyndebourne to be part of a year of events celebrating Baroque music and culture

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The grandeur and majesty of the Baroque era will be celebrated by cultural organisations throughout the UK in 2009, inspired by the anniversaries of two great Baroque composers. 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of George Frideric Handel’s death (1685-1759) and the 350th anniversary of Henry Purcell’s birth (1659-1695). The opulent Baroque style will be captured by Baroque’09, a year of Baroque music and culture with an exciting programme of concerts, operas and exhibitions. BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Proms will feature Baroque music throughout the year. Programmes on BBC Television will look at the music and art of the period. Exhibitions at Handel House Museum and the Foundling Museum will explore the life of Handel, while the V&A’s spring exhibition will capture the splendour of the Baroque style.

For more information on the full programme of events, visit

Academy of Ancient

The Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) will mark Baroque ’09 by performing Handel’s opera Arianna in Creta and completing its Gramophone Award-winning cycle of his instrumental music Op.1–7. Arianna, a tale of personal passion and political enmity set in the Crete of classical antiquity, sees AAM Founder and Emeritus Director Christopher Hogwood returning to the rostrum with a stellar lineup of soloists including Angelika Kirchschlager, Lisa Milne and Sonia Prina. The orchestra’s new recordings of the instrumental music Op.1–7 is its first major recording project with Hogwood’s successor, Richard Egarr. Press contact: Simon Fairclough / 01223 301509

As part of Baroque ’09 and its own annual Great Performers season of classical music concerts, the Barbican Centre will focus on the anniversaries of Handel, Haydn and Purcell from January until June 2009. The Centre will bring together leading European and British performers of the Baroque repertoire such as Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble with Marc Minkowski, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra with René Jacobs, The Sixteen with Harry Christophers and Gabrieli Consort&Players with Paul McCreesh. The programmes will include Handel’s oratorios Samson and La Resurrezione, his opera Arianna in Creta, his last great masterpiece Jephtha and Purcell’s exuberant King Arthur. Among the soloists there will be Thomas Quasthoff, Mark Padmore, Kate Royal, Angelika Kirchschlager, Miah Persson, Richard Croft, Lucy Crowe and Toby Spence. Press contact: Annikaisa Vainio – / 020 7382 7090

BBC Radio 3&BBC

BBC Radio 3 will celebrate the life and music of Handel and Purcell with concerts, features and discussions across the network throughout the year in one of the most ambitious year-long celebrations that Radio 3 has ever planned. BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting many of the relevant concerts and events given by the partners in Baroque 09 alongside two Baroque-related series. The Art of Baroque, presented by mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, will be broadcast in late March and will reveal ideas of alchemy, geometry and science that define the era from the sculptures of Bernini, to the gardens of Versailles and the music of Monteverdi and Handel. The Early Music Show has an eight-part series celebrating Early Music and Art exploring how the visual arts impact on music. Travelling from Medieval to the Baroque, Catherine Bott and Lucie Skeaping will meander through the allegorical gardens of the Villa d’Este near Rome; reflect on the splendours of Tudor stained glass; consider musical portraiture and musical iconography in some of the world’s greatest paintings, and arrive in the 17th century with an exploration of German Lutheran woodcuts. Celebrations will include performances of both composers’ music at the BBC Proms. Press contact: Victoria Bevan – / 020 7765 5887


The BBC will celebrate Baroque ’09 with two major TV series, planned for broadcast early next year. The Birth of British Music, a four part series for BBC Two, will tell the story of a cultural revolution in British music. Narrated by the acclaimed conductor Charles Hazlewood, the series will focus on the biographies of the two great composers Handel and Purcell. A major new three-part series for BBC Four, written and presented by art critic Waldemar Januszczak, will tell the story of the Baroque. Filmed in high definition in locations across Europe, the series willexplore the importance and impact of the style as it travelled from Catholic Rome to Protestant London. To complement these series BBC Two will present a Baroque double bill from the Royal Opera House with broadcasts of full performances of Handel’s Acis and Galatea and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. A Songs of Praise special on BBC One will celebrate Handel’s most famous and best-loved works, Messiah . Press contact: Tamsin Morgan – / 020 8225 8398

The English

Known for over 30 years as one of Europe’s leading Baroque orchestras, The English Concert will celebrate Baroque’09 with a series of special events including an anniversary concert in the city of Handel’s birthplace, Halle in Germany. To coincide with the V&A’s major spring exhibition, Baroque 1600 – 1820: Style in the Age of Magnificence, The English Concert and guests will present five free Sunday concerts in the V&A’s Lecture Theatre. These performances will explore Baroque music from Italy, England, Germany and South America with the orchestra’s artistic director Harry Bicket, Christian Curnyn, I Fagiolini, Ex Cathedra and more. Press contact: Nick Morrison – / 020 7911 0905


The Foundling Museum, with its unrivalled collection of Handel memorabilia, including his will and the conducting score and parts of Messiah, will mark the anniversary of his death with the exhibition Handel the Philanthropist (16 January – 28 June 2009) in partnership with the Royal Society of Musicians. The exhibition will focus on his charitable life. Alongside the exhibition the Museum will organise a concert series to include performances of the Foundling Hospital Anthem which Handel composed for the opening of the Hospital chapel in 1749, and a performance of Messiah. The Museum is also developing work with a community choir of children and adults to participate in workshops and the Messiah performance. Press contact: Olivia Rickman – / 020 7841 3614

In 2009 Glyndebourne Festival Opera will include two operas to commemorate the Baroque period: a new production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen directed by Jonathan Kent and a revival of David McVicar’s award-winning production of Handel’s Giulio Ce sare. Baroque specialist William Christie will conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Glyndebourne’s new production of The Fairy Queen. Written in 1692 as a piece of courtly entertainment, The Fairy Queen is based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Giulio Cesare is one of Handel’s greatest and most lavishly scored works with its rich combination of historical drama, humour and romance. The cast of David McVicar’s exuberant and seductive production is lead by well-known Handelian Sarah Connolly as Cesare and Danielle de Niese as a coquettish Cleopatra. Press contact: Emma Menniss – / 01273 812321

Handel House

25 Brook Street was Handel’s home from 1723 until his death on 14 April 1759. This address is where Handel composed many timeless works including Messiah and Zadok the Priest. For the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death, Handel House Museum will present the exhibition Handel: Man and Myth from 8 April to 25 October 2009. This major exhibition celebrates Handel ‘the man’, looking in depth at aspects of the life and character of this complex and fascinating composer. Christopher Hogwood, renowned conductor, musicologist and Handel biographer, will curate the exhibition, which will include Handel’s death mask and important exhibits from national and international collections. Press contact: Shuk Kwan Liu – / 020 7399 1954

Lufthansa Festival of Baroque /

Now in its 25th year, the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music will be held from 14 to 23 May 2009 with performances at St John’s, Smith Square and Westminster Abbey. The title of the 2009 festival will be 1659-1759: A Hundred Years of English Genius. The Lufthansa Festival will mark Baroque’09 with performances by artists from Britain and abroad. Highlights will include coronation anthems by both composers in the building in which they were first heard – Westminster Abbey. Press contact: Nick Morrison – / 020 7564 3063

Monteverdi Choir and

Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, comprising the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, all conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, has established itself as a leading force in Baroque repertoire. For Baroque’09, the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists will embark on an extensive two-part European tour of the Handel’s great oratorio Israel in Egypt, (August/September and December), finishing on Sunday 13 December 2009 at London’s Cadogan Hall. Press contact: Helen Tweedy –

The Old Royal Naval College,

The Old Royal Naval College, established in 1694, is one of Britain’s most prominent Baroque buildings. Sir Christopher Wren planned the site and, during the first half of the eighteenth century architects including Hawksmoor and Vanbrugh completed Wren’s grand design. To mark Baroque’09, there will be special performances of Bach’s St John Passion, Handel’s Coronation Anthems, Handel’s Giustino and a Concerto Grosso, together with a number of other period pieces in the surroundings of the College Chapel. Performers include The Sixteen and Greenwich Baroque Orchestra. The performance by Greenwich Baroque Orchestra on 7 July 2009 will be followed by a dinner in the Painted Hall, with its fine highly decorated interior by James Thornhill. Throughout the year there will also be lectures on Christopher Wren, Hawksmoor and Thornhill and specially themed guided tours. Press contact: Isabel Keim – 020 8269 4763

Orchestra of the Age of

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is known for its performances of period music using historical instruments. To celebrate Baroque’09 it will have a programme of Baroque music throughout the year. A highlight of the programme will be a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the Royal Festival Hall on 9 April 2009. One of the pinnacles of Baroque music, Bach’s masterpiece will be performed by a superlative cast of soloists led by tenor Mark Padmore, whose collaborations with the OAE in recent years have led to intense, committed and deeply moving performances of Bach’s passions. Press contact: Dennis Chang – / 020 7700 5959

Royal Opera

As part of Baroque’09 the Royal Opera House will commemorate Handel and Purcell in April with a double bill of Dido and Aeneas and Acis and Galatea, directed by Wayne McGregor, The Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer. Both productions will unite the performing companies at the Royal Opera House with dancers from The Royal Ballet performing alongside artists from The Royal Opera. Christopher Hogwood, Emeritus Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, will return to the Royal Opera House to conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in this double bill. Wayne McGregor’s production of Dido and Aeneas, first seen at La Scala, Milan in 2006, will mark Sarah Connolly’s debut with The Royal Opera as Dido and Lucas Meachum’s debut as Aeneas. Handel’s Acis and Galatea will be presented for the first time at Covent Garden in a newly-created production, with a cast that includes Charles Workman as Acis, Danielle de Niese making her Royal Opera debut as Galatea and Matthew Rose as Polyphemus. An exhibition entitled Handel at the Royal Opera House will be at the Royal Opera House until April 2009. The exhibition will explore Handel’s contribution to the history of the theatre after his arrival in 1735, when he recruited a remarkable company of singers who gave three seasons at Covent Garden. Press contact: Ann Richards – / 020 7212 9132


The Sixteen has established a reputation for performing early English polyphony and masterpieces of the Renaissance. It has brought fresh insights into Baroque and early classical music and performed a diversity of twentieth century music drawn from the passions of conductor and founder, Harry Christophers. For Baroque’09, The Sixteen will perform Samson at the Barbican on 12 February 2009 and on 12 May 2009, to celebrate their own thirtieth anniversary, they will give a special performance of Handel’s Dixit Dominus at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The Sixteen will mark Handel’s death, to the day, with a performance including his Coronation Anthems in the fine Baroque setting of the Old Royal Naval Chapel, Greenwich, on 14 April 2009. Press contact: Claire Willis – / 01600 891512

Victoria and Albert

The magnificence and splendour of Baroque, one of the most opulent styles of the 17th and 18th centuries, will be the subject of the V&A’s spring exhibition. The exhibition will reflect the grandeur of the Baroque style, from the Rome of Borromini and Bernini to the magnificence of Louis XIV’s Versailles and the lavishness of Baroque theatre and performance. On display will be religious paintings by Rubens and Tiepolo while silver furniture, portraits, sculpture, a regal bed and court tapestries will conjure up the rooms of a Baroque palace. The exhibition will also show how, as European power spread, Baroque style reached other parts of the world, captured in objects such as a gilded Mexican altarpiece. Baroque 1620 – 1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence will bring together around 200 objects to examine the flourishing of the Baroque style during the era that saw the establishment of great European and colonial empires ruled by absolute monarchs and the growing power of the Roman Catholic Church.
Displays will cover architecture, furniture, silver, ceramics, painting, sculpture, and textiles. The exhibition will explore the Baroque style in performance and the theatre; the public city square; religious spaces including St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and secular spaces such as Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles. Press contact: Meera Hindocha – / 020 7942 2497