Wednesday 8 February
Six weeks of concerts, talks, walks & film screenings explore rare masterpieces by Handel, the life of Telemann and celebrations for the 15th anniversary of the Handel Singing Competition
18 March – 24 April 2017
“From the dark and dramatic music of Faramondo, with its plot twists keeping you on the edge of your seat, to the ecstatic grandeur of Joseph and his Brethren, the 2017 London Handel Festival is packed full of musical treasures. We celebrate the great work of Mr Handel, the European, in his adopted home town and with the forces to do him proud.”
Laurence Cummings, Music Director, London Handel Festival
The London Handel Festival today announced the programme for its 2017 Festival – a six week celebration of the life and work of Handel, in particular his lesser-known works and life as a European naturalised immigrant, entrepreneur and philanthropist. As always, the London Handel Festival also presents works by his contemporaries and this year has a special focus on Telemann, marking the 250th anniversary of his death.
The London Handel Festival’s musical director, Laurence Cummings, is one of the world’s leading conductors and his knowledge of the repertoire and dedication to nurturing young singers ensures that the programming and casting of all operas and concerts presented during the Festival remains as distinctive and engaging as ever.
While continuing to present concerts at Handel’s parish church, St George’s, Hanover Square, this year’s Festival expands to take over London with events at Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Royal College of Music, the Foundling Museum, Grosvenor Chapel, Royal Academy of Music, Charterhouse, as well as St Lawrence’s Church, Little Stanmore.
The 2017 London Handel Festival opens with a performance of Handel’s unjustly neglected opera Faramondo, a spicy tale of warring houses and love triangles. Conducted by Laurence Cummings and fully staged at Royal College of Music’s Britten Theatre, in partnership with the RCM International Opera School, the opera is given four performances (20, 21, 23 & 25 March).
Another neglected masterpiece by Handel is his oratorio Joseph and his Brethren which will be conducted by Cummings and a cast led by Christopher Ainslie and Elizabeth Watts at St George’s, Hanover Square (24 March).
2017 marks the 15th anniversary of the Handel Singing Competition which has given now established artists such as Iestyn Davies, Ruby Hughes, Josep-Ramon Olivé and Rupert Charlesworth, all of whom are past finalists, valuable exposure and recognition. The London Handel Festival has always had the nurturing of young talent at the centre of its artistic policy and on Monday 27 March a special gala, Mr Handel’s Scholars, at Cadogan Hall will celebrate the Competition’s legacy when these four singers are joined by Laurence Cummings and the London Handel Orchestra.
Despite all its innovations, the 2017 edition of the London Handel Festival will still present its well-loved landmarks. The annual sell-out performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion on Good Friday returns with previous competition finalists George Humphreys and Christopher Lowrey, and the annual visit to Wigmore Hall will see Adrian Butterfield direct music by Handel and Telemann.
This year’s London Handel Festival is expanding the range of events on offer and presents walks, talks and film screening as well as a special display at the Foundling Museum of three different versions of the printed score of Faramondo from 1738, listing the singers of the first performances, alongside the libretto from the first performance, contemporary manuscripts.
The performances of Faramondo are further enhanced by two projects for schools, in partnership with Handel & Hendrix, designed to encourage children to gain an understanding of Handel, his life and works with a particular focus on the staged opera.
Such community engagement and education work is central to the plans by the Festival’s new director Samir Savant, who leads the Festival after senior roles in leading arts organisations including the Royal College of Music.
Samir Savant commented:
“I am delighted to present my first London Handel Festival as the new Festival Director. It is a privilege to be involved in this internationally acclaimed venture, which has such an excellent track record in nurturing young talent and exploring the lesser-known works of Handel and his contemporaries.
“Handel was not only a composer of genius whose music has had such a direct emotional connection to so many people across the centuries, but also a hugely successful entrepreneur, generous philanthropist and immigrant who built his life in this country, and from whom we can still learn so much today. Our 2017 Festival is more varied and exciting than ever, with a stunning array of soloists and groups, including our own London Handel Orchestra under the visionary musical leadership of Laurence Cummings.”