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Festival: Göttingen International Handel Festival


May 17th 26th, 2019

2018 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War; a good reason for the Festival to consider that eternal pair, ‘war and peace’.

There is no denying it; conflicts are an elemental component of history and of many a story. The Varus Battle (or as it is sometimes called the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest), that took place in the year 9 AD, is part of Germany’s founding mythology. Accounts concerning the chieftain of the Cherusci form the background to Handel’s Arminio, the last-but-one of Handel’s operas that have yet to be performed in the Göttingen International Handel Festival. The Festival opera will be staged in Göttingen’s Deutsches Theater by internationally renowned director Erich Sidler, Intendant in Göttingen. The conflict between Jews and Seleucids as recounted in the First Book of Maccabees is the theme of the Festival oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, with a prominent cast starring Kenneth Tarver in the title role. Handel’s Alexander Balus deals with this same conflict. And in the church of St. Nicolai in Herzberg, you can look forward to hearing prizewinners of the 2016 and 2017 Handel Singing Competition.

Not only conflicts of war but also victorious battles and the long roads to peace treaties have again and again provided inspiration for great works. The Utrecht Jubilate, the Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, which can also be understood as a token of gratitude for the Peace of Utrecht, and the Dettingen Te Deum in the Gala Concert are key works on the programme dealing with the theme of war and peace. Likewise in the Gala Concert, the mythical hero in The Choice of Hercules, sung by Diana Moore, has to confront conflicts of a more personal nature, when facing the choice between virtue and pleasure.

In the göttingen händel competition, eight young ensembles enter into entirely peaceful musical combat as they contend for the prize of the Göttinger Händel-Gesellschaft e. V. 

The symposium led by Prof. Dr. Laurenz Lütteken and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sandberger is concerned less with conflicts of war than with those of a musical, aesthetic and political kind. This year, it is being held under the title of ‘Metropolis London – Conflicts and Identities of a Musical Centre’. We are delighted that the Director of the German Historical Institute in London, Professor Dr. Andreas Gestrich, has agreed to deliver the Festival Lecture.

With all the conflicts that the 2018 Festival programme will be engaged with, the soul needs some harmony as a counterbalance. We defuse the wars and struggles on stage with long-lasting friendships and the togetherness of musical performance. 

Midori Seiler and Christian Rieger, and Giovanni Antonini and Ottavio Dantone, will be among those making music together. Our Artistic Director Laurence Cummings has not only gathered the FestspielOrchester Göttingen around him, but has also invited Christ Church Cathedral Choir, which was a strong presence in his days at Oxford University, and whose director Stephen Darlington, Laurence Cummings’ former tutor, retires at the end of 2018. In a ‘Soirée’ event, Laurence Cummings himself takes his leave of the London Handel Players after the many years he has been performing with them. The Landesjugendchor Niedersachsen and the European Union Baroque Orchestra generate longstanding friendships.

For full information, visit the Göttingen International Handel Festival website.

Latest reviewsSee more...

Gala Concert at Göttingen International Handel Festival proves a hit

Christ Church Cathedral Choir, FestspielOrchester Göttingen and soloists © Alciro Theodoro da Silva
This year’s Gala Conzert at Göttingen featured two different works not commonly heard and certainly not together, with excellent soloists and the Christ Church Cathedral Choir
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Alexander Balus: a wonderful performance

© Arianna Vendittelli
Why is Handel's wonderful oratorio Alexander Balus so rarely performed?  A performance at Herzfeld am Harz, as part of the Göttingen Handel festival, was musically splendid, despite cuts.
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A stunning Judas Maccabaeus at Göttingen

Kenneth Tarver © Alciro Theodoro da Silva
Laurence Cummings leads the FestspielOrchester Göttingen, the NDR Choir and an exemplary set of soloists led by in a definitive performance of Handel's oratorio.
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