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Guide to Göttingen International Handel Festival


May 10th 21st, 2018

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.

Upcoming eventsSee more...

GöttingenJudas Maccabaeus

Handel: Judas Maccabaeus
Laurence Cummings; Deanna Breiwick; Sophie Harmsen; Kenneth Tarver; João Fernandes

GöttingenFOG im Fokus - Oboe Band

Fasch, Zelenka
Susanne Regel; Kristin Linde; Rhoda Patrick; Stephan von Hoff

GöttingenLondon Handel Players

Lully, Handel, Bach
London Handel Players; Mary Collins; Steven Player


Handel: Arminio
Laurence Cummings; Erich Sidler; Dirk Becker; Renée Listerdal; Anna Devin; Helena Rasker
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Outstanding Brockes-Passion at Göttingen

Sebastian Kohlhepp © Julia Wesely
Brockes-Passion is becoming not quite the performing rarity it once was, and this outstanding performance at the Göttingen Handel Festival this year could hardly be bettered.
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Dramatic cantatas from Franziska Gottwald

Franziska Gottwald
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Bernd Eberhardt © Anton Säckl
Luther in Worms, Meinardus's paean to the great Reformer, is permeated by the German nationalism of the 1870s.
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