Star line-up of singers and conductor for NZSO’s Messiah
22 November 2019 - NZSO media release for immediate release
Star line-up of singers and conductor for
NZSO’s Messiah in
Acclaimed Australian conductor and Handel scholar Graham Abbott returns to conduct the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s annual must-see performance of the masterwork Messiah.
Maestro Abbott wowed audiences and critics when he conducted Messiah with the NZSO in 2012 and 2016. Wellington’s The Dominion Post praised his 2016 concert as “from the very top drawer”.
“Absolutely first class playing,” said RNZ Concert. “Graham Abbott the conductor is to be congratulated … It was all splendidly done.”
Maestro Abbott has conducted Messiah 74 times and his NZSO concert will be his 75th performance. He never tires of Messiah or Handel. “I’ve adored the man and his music since childhood. Performances of Messiah are always thrilling because I know the audience is expecting something special. And it’s Handel, so to me that makes it special.”
Messiah also features four superb Australasian vocalists. Celebrated Australian soprano Celeste Lazarenko, praised for her 2017 Messiah performance with the NZSO, returns with renowned New Zealand mezzo-soprano Anna Pierard, making her NZSO Messiah debut.
Australian tenor Andrew Goodwin, who has performed with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies makes his NZSO debut alongside New Zealand bass Hadleigh Adams, hailed by New Yorker critic Alex Ross as a “tour de force” following his 2017 performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic
No performance of Handel’s oratorio is complete without a choir. This year the NZSO will be joined by the 140-member Orpheus Choir of Wellington.
Messiah will also be an opportunity for audiences in December to help those in need during the festive season.
In partnership with The Wellington City Mission, the NZSO is supporting the charity’s annual Christmas Star Appeal. At Messiah audience members can donate food or funds to The Mission.
“The Wellington City Mission is proud to partner with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and to be collecting at the Orchestra’s Christmas concerts. All donations received will make a big difference in the lives of people in need at Christmas,” says Murray Edridge, Wellington City Missioner.
George Frideric Handel’s Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742. The composer was looking for ways in which to create novel and compelling music and for Messiah to be enjoyed by everyone, whether they were nobility, landed gentry or commoner.
Following the premiere, Messiah was so well received that within a few years it was regularly performed and is now one of the few works from the mid-1700s that has had a constant performance history. Today it is one of the most performed oratorios in the world and one of the best known. It was even reinterpreted in gospel, blues, jazz, R&B and hip-hop for the 1992 album Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, featuring Stevie Wonder.