No doubt it’s a highlight of the holiday season for any number of classical aficionados. And every year, the National Philharmonic delivers, performing Handel’s Messiah as holiday climax.
Stan Engebretson returns to conduct the National Philharmonic Chorale and Orchestra in performances of Messiah, this year joined by a stellar cast of African-American soloists: soprano Kearstin Piper Brown, mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford, tenor Norman Shankle, and baritone Jorell Williams.
The two performances at Strathmore will also serve as a fundraiser for the Scotland A.M.E. Zion Church in Potomac, Md.
The nearly 100-year-old structure was nearly destroyed and left unusable by a flood in 2019. In the spirit of the season, 50% of proceeds will go toward the 2nd Century Project to benefit the church.
The move harkens back to the first-ever performance of Messiah in 1742 at the Fishamble Street Music Hall in Dublin, Ireland, where the work raised money for two hospitals and a prison in the city.
The Scotland A.M.E. Zion Mass Choir and its director Michael Terry will also join to perform a pre-concert set in the lobby 30 minutes prior to the Messiah performances.
“We are overjoyed to bring back Messiah — our most popular event each season,” the organization’s Gajewski says in the release. “Several aspects will make these performances even more meaningful than in years past: our fantastic cast of vocal soloists, whom we’re thrilled to showcase; our effort to raise awareness of, and much-needed support for, the Scotland A.M.E. Zion Church; and our learning and engagement activities to educate audiences about the complicated history behind Handel.
“All of these comprise what I deem to be an appropriate response to the programming of Handel’s masterpiece, and one that we aim to thoughtfully design and bring to our community for seasons to come.”
Saturday, Dec. 17, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 18, at 3 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md.
Also Friday, Dec. 23, at 7:30 p.m. Capital One Hall, 7750 Capital One Tower Rd., Tysons, Va. Tickets are $19 to $99.
Visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301-493-9283.
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