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About the Concert 节目简介

What Do You Know about Handel’s Messiah?

1. Was it first performed at Christmas?

No. Handel’s Messiah was given its premiere in Dublin in 1742 at Easter and the London premiere took place a year later. This English oratorio consists of three parts. The first part covers the birth of the saviour of humankind, the second part covers Christ’s passion and his death, and the last part concludes with the final victory over sin and death. The oratorio is popular during both Easter and Christmas time.

2. Is this masterwork written at the composer’s peak?

Handel took up permanent residence in London in 1712 when he was 27. While he was writing music for the Royal family, he also presented many operas at London’s theatres. However, the Italian-style operas he created gradually went out of fashion. After receiving the text of Messiah from his friend, librettist Charles Jennens, Handel completed the work in less than a month. The first performance in Dublin received a warm reception but the London premiere did not bring the same result. In 1750, however, Handel assigned the rights of Messiah to the Foundling Hospital and the benefit concert was a great success. The custom of standing during the Hallelujah Chorus began when King George II did so at the London premiere in 1743, which obliged all in the audience to stand as well.

3. Was Messiah composed for a giant choir?

No, the original performances were small. However, there was a mixed choir of ten thousand members that performed in a Boston concert in 1869. Another record was a choir of nearly three thousand singers that performed it in a concert in London in 1859, commemorating the 100th year since Handel’s death. Mozart arranged Messiah to fit the orchestra and choir of his time. The choir size of that version’s first performance was around 300 singers. However, the number of singers in the premiere was only 18!

三个《弥赛亚》的谜思 ......

1. 《弥赛亚》在圣诞节首演?

不是。这部神剧于 1742 年的复活节在都柏林首演。三个部份分别描述耶稣降生、基督受苦与死亡,以及复活与审判。所以,圣诞节和复活节都常常可以欣赏到《弥赛亚》。

2. 《弥赛亚》是作曲家如日中天之作?

刚好相反。1712 年,二十七岁的韩德尔初到伦敦,除了为皇室创作音乐外,也写了多出歌剧。可是,日子久了,他的意大利风格歌剧续渐失去支持。幸好友人珍宁斯送来《弥赛亚》的文本,让他全情投入创作并以二十多日便完成这套神剧。首次在都柏林的演出大获好评,可惜在伦敦的首演却未如理想。直至 1750 年为育婴堂的筹款收益而演出,作品始获得空前成功。这出神剧不单得到平民的热爱,连国皇乔治二世听到〈哈利路亚〉〉也肃然起敬,站立鼓掌,更令韩德尔攀上事业高峰。

3. 作品是为超大型合唱团而写?

据说 1869 年在波士顿的和平纪念音乐会中,由一万人组成的合唱团演唱了这套名曲。1859年,伦敦的「韩德尔逝世一百周年」音乐会,有近三千人的合唱团演唱了此曲。而在莫扎特新编的《弥赛亚》中,首演时合唱团人数也近三百!不过,韩德尔原版的《弥赛亚》,首演的合唱团只有十八人。

Handel’s Messiah

Colin Touchin

Traditions that last over 250 years provide powerful spiritual cement in our communities: annual performances of the whole - or parts - of Handel’s Messiah have become one of the most common, reliable and uplifting ways in which singers, players and music-lovers gather to share the joy of music-making, of the spiritual seasons of Christmas and Easter, and of much more besides.

From the first performance in 1741 to today, some 278 years later, more renditions will have been given of this work (or sections from it) than of any other composition from the Western canon of “classical” music, easily out-stripping, say, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and, Pachelbel’s Canon! To imagine the number of performers who have contributed to these public displays of musical delight we might calculate an average per event, suggesting that now several millions of performers in probably over a hundred countries have provided their listeners with entertainment, education and elevation through this extraordinary music.

What is it about this work which has so captivated singers, players, and listeners? Aside from the romantic stories behind its origins and the super-fast composition period of just 3 weeks for over 150 minutes of music (although some sections were re-cycled in the typical manner of the 18th century), there is a delicate and highly effective balance between solo arias and choral sections of varied intensity and rhythmic excitement. Even short extracts and ad hoc sequences of just a few numbers drawn out of the whole 53 movements (though that number can vary according to different editions) can have a dramatic impact on listeners, so refined and direct is the musical and emotional language employed by the composer. It is mostly the magic of the musical composition which carries the eager, innocent and knowledgeable listeners alike along the path of entertaining enlightenment; although the libretto, drawn from Biblical texts by Charles Jennens, intrinsically provides much comfort and inspiration, too.

For solo singers, there are some of the finest, sustained and expressive arias of the whole Baroque period, featuring slow, thoughtful and impassioned lines alongside lively and exciting runs of impressively articulated notes. For chorus singers, there are sufficiently varied slow and quick passages to maintain interest and challenge (even over a 50-or-more-years-long choral career) including homophonic block chordal sections as well as fugal and canonic movements of intricate and skillful composition. For orchestral players the music sets constant demands for refined technique, awareness of performance style and precision between colleagues; even after many years and dozens of performances players can find satisfaction in a well-rehearsed and well-intentioned interpretation. Whereas for conductors the music is simply so well written, with so many variations of time-signature and rhythmic elements, mood and compositional construction, as to provide, always, plenty of individual freedom in decisions of tempo, dynamic and phrasing whilst never losing its power to surprise, delight and engage the creative juices.

Perhaps above all, for the thousands upon thousands of listeners world-wide, the music of Handel’s Messiah continues to fascinate, intrigue and amaze us: we can never get tired of listening to the subtle ways in which the voices blend with the instruments, how the contrapuntal passages unwind with apparent inevitability and simplicity, and how we are led through the great religious story with unwavering conviction and passion.

Did all this ingenuity then appear only in this one work of Handel’s or of the Baroque era? Indeed not, as there are, of course, many great works in his catalogue and in those of other leading composers of the day. But the scale of this work, in three parts to reflect the division of the stories from the Bible, and the refinement of every section moulded to the overall design, maintaining consistency of message and material, has confirmed it as one of the outstanding masterpieces of all time. However often we perform or hear it, we can always find something great and wonderful in the music and words of this finest of oratorios.

韩德尔的弥赛亚

文:杜程(中译:李梦)

绵延250年的传统为我们的社群提供强有力的精神粘合剂:每年演出韩德尔《弥赛亚》全曲或部分章节已成为最常见且振奋人心的方法之一。歌者、乐手及爱乐人聚集,分享音乐的乐趣,庆祝圣诞节与复活节,以及更多。1741年首演至今,278年过去,相比西方古典音乐世界其它作品,《弥赛亚》(或者说其中部分章节)被赋予更多诠释,甚至比贝多芬《第五交响曲》以及约翰·帕赫贝尔的卡农还要多!或许已有超过100个国家的数百万演奏及演唱者曾参与演出这首杰作。

为何这作品如此吸引歌者、演奏者及听众?除了曲目创作背后的浪漫故事以及极短的创作时间(作曲家仅用三个礼拜便完成这套超过150分钟的作品,虽说其中一些段落是十八世纪惯用出现的「循环再用」,该曲在独唱咏叹调以及充满张力和节奏感的合唱部分之间,找到了精巧的平衡。即便是短小的选段也能对听众产生强烈影响,可感知作曲家对于音乐语言及情绪的运用精致而得体。音乐的魔力引领听众踏上启迪之旅。查尔斯詹南斯根据圣经文本创作的歌词,同样带给人们启迪与安慰。

对于独唱歌者来说,巴罗克年代不乏精彩而富有表现力的咏叹调,以缓慢、沉思或热情洋溢的旋律线和生动欢愉的音符写成。对于合唱歌者而言,哪怕其演出生涯超过五十年,仍有为数众多的音乐段落足够为他们带去欢愉与挑战,不论是主调或织体的乐段,抑或精妙的赋格或卡农写作手法。作品亦对乐手保持一贯要求—对于演奏风格的清晰认知以及彼此之间的精准配合。即便多年演奏该曲,乐手仍能享受一场准备充足的表演带来的满足感。对指挥而言,作品写得太好了—拍子记号、节奏与情绪均甚具变化,指挥家却有充足的自由度去处理速度、强弱和分句,以带来一个充满惊喜及创意的演出。

韩德尔的《弥赛亚》不断为全世界成千上万的听众带来惊喜。曲中人声与乐器的对话,以及以对位法写成的乐段都让人百听不厌。我们被引领着,怀着信念与热情,走入伟大的宗教故事之中。智慧与创造不仅出现在这一套作品中。韩德尔本人以及那时很多一流作曲家曾写下许多杰出作品,不过,《弥赛亚》的曲目架构,乐段与音乐素材之间的巧妙衔接,令其成为有史以来最出众的作品之一。不论表演或聆听过多少次,我们仍能不断从这套神曲之中的瑰宝内,找到精彩与伟大之处。

A Holy Child Is Born

Lesley Chan

I am delighted to be one of the performers at this year’s Christmas Concert. The joint choir for this year’s College Christmas Concert features more than 200 secondary students from eight schools, including Belilios Public School, Carmel Pak U Secondary School, Heep Yunn School, HKUGA College, Law Ting Pong Secondary School, SKH Bishop Hall Jubilee School, St. Paul’s College and Wah Yan College, Kowloon. Each of them has participated in various local and overseas performances. They are going to give the premiere of A Holy Child Is Born which I have arranged. The surround sound of the beautiful melodies and harmonies will fill up the hall of the College with joy and fun!

This special arrangement of some popular carols is one of my recent works. I am so glad that I am not only having the privilege to arrange this medley but also to conduct such a big youth choir to premiere my own work at Christmas. I hope that our singers in this joint choir will ‘sing at ease’ - to enjoy the beautiful melodies and festive atmosphere set by the music. There are no complicated rhythms but interesting imitations between different vocal parts. I hope the singers will be amazed by this setting. This arrangement includes four familiar carols such as ‘The Three Kings’ and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’. The audience will hear the tunes in a ‘chronological’ way - as if the singers were telling the Nativity story. You are cordially invited to join in the “Messiah, Encore!” on Christmas Eve to celebrate the festive season! See you there!

圣婴的降生

陈家曦

很高兴可以参与「弥赛亚,安歌!」音乐会的制作和演出!今次音乐会的联校学生合唱团,由来自八所中学,超过二百位年青歌手组成。他们分别来自庇理罗士女子中学、迦密柏雨中学、协恩中学、港大同学会书院、罗定邦中学、何明华会督银禧中学、圣保罗书院及九龙华仁书院。各个合唱团都曾经参与不少海内、外演出。而在今年的圣诞校园音乐会上,他们会首次演唱由我编曲的《圣婴的降生》。

除了新编这首圣诞合唱曲外,我也十分兴奋可以指导今年音乐会联校学生合唱团的排练,并带领这个充满年青气息的大型合唱团演出。在改编圣诞颂歌时,我希望参与的同学能够轻松自在地演唱这首作品,所以放弃用上复杂的节奏组合,反而善用是次庞大的人数,于乐曲中段把合唱团一分为二,用轮唱方法加添音乐上的趣味。这首改编而成的作品,包罗了四首经典的圣诞颂歌,《东方三博士》及《齐来崇拜》等均琅琅上口,我亦按时序编配耶稣诞生前后的事迹,由合唱团及钢琴共同演绎,制造出普天同庆的节日气氛。约定你,「弥赛亚,安歌!」音乐会见!