Handel’s Messiah: A New Jersey Symphony Holiday Tradition at Princeton

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
The distinguished maestro Nicholas McGegan led the New Jersey Symphony, Montclair State University Singers, and soloists in a moving performance of George Frederich Handel’s Messiah on December 15 at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton.
The Richardson Auditorium is an outstanding, intimate venue on the Princeton University campus. Alexander Hall, the building housing the auditorium, is extraordinary in loveliness. No less beautiful is Richardson Auditorium itself. Usually, string quartets and recitals hold forth on stage, so it is a special event to hear and see an orchestra, large chorus, and vocal soloists on stage. Tonight was an exceptional opportunity to experience this holiday classic up close and personal. 
Maestro McGegan is known as a classical and baroque music specialist much in demand around the world. He often appears at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the English National Opera, the BBC Proms, Tanglewood, Mostly Mozart Festival, Santa Fe Opera, and the list goes on. He also has many recordings to his credit. Sherezade Panthaki, the soprano soloist, is internationally known, with many stage appearances and recordings. She was joined by Key’mon W. Murrah, countertenor, Thomas Cooley, tenor, and Tyler Duncan, baritone. The New Jersey Symphony played with sensitivity and eclat. The large forces of the Montclair State University Singers filled the stage, bringing sweetness of tone, with forceful declamation. All told, the entire performance was inspirational and beautiful. 
This Messiah was repeated the next day at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, an amazing feat in and of itself. Bravo.
The New Jersey Symphony will appear several times at Princeton this season. On January 12, International superstar Augustin Hadelich will play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony on March 15. Beethoven’s Third Symphony will be heard May 17, and the sensational pianist Daniil Trifonov will play Gershwin on June 17.

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