Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society 
  Vol. 45                                      ONLINE  ONLINE  ONLINE                                     March 2019
Providing financial support   since 1999 for
The Rockbridge Choral Society and The Rockbridge Youth Chorale   

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Birthdays  in

Arthur Honegger        3/10/1892

Edward Strauss    3/15/1835

   Andrew Lloyd Webber        3/22/1948
Mark Your Calendars

Hallelujah Handel!
Choral Society,  
with chamber orchestra and soloists, April 7, 2019, 7 PM, Lexington  
Presbyterian Church    
Don't miss the Hallelujah Chorus!

Spring Concert -
Youth Chorale, with Rockbridge County Highschool Choir,   
April 23, 2019, 7 PM, Lexington  
Presbyterian Church
Adopt A Player
   As always, the RCS has a group of stellar players and soloists for Hallelujah Handel!  We still have several opportunities to underwrite players and soloists.
If you can help the RCS to support these superb musical talents, contact our executive director, Melanie Griffis-Hooper or go to our website, and hit the support tab.  Here is a list of available musicians to adopt this season.  Group adoptions are encouraged!  No grooming or feeding required!

Concert Master -Adopted!
Cello- Adopted!
Bass -  Adopted!
Oboe (2)
Trumpet (2)
Organ - Adopted!

Tenor - Adopted!
Mezzo Soprano - Adopted!
Handel, Messiah and Britain's  
Foundling Hospital

Girls of the Foundling Hospital

    Perhaps Handel's most popular choral work is the Messiah.  This oratorio is so well known and so often performed that we take for granted its popularity.  Indeed, who among us has not heard or sung the Hallelujah Chorus at least once?  Yet Messiah is not the only work where Handel used this chorus.  There is one other - the Foundling Hospital Anthem.  In fact, were it not for the composer's support of the UK's first children's charity, London's Foundling Hospital, Messiah might have hit the obscurity dust bin of choral history. 
    German-born Handel began his career in Britain, where he lived the last 50 years of his life, as an opera composer.  Such occupation was a financially precarious business in 18th century London.  It was up to the composer to rent the theatre, hire the singers and musicians, and pay for costumes and scenery.  Enter the oratorio, which allowed the composer to capitalize on an orchestra, soloists and a choir of voices while dispensing with the need for expensive sets, costumes and props.  Nevertheless, oratorios still required a large performing venue.  Messiah premiered in Dublin in April 1742.  For the London premier in 1743, Handel rented the Covent Garden Theatre. Unfortunately, this theatre was considered a disreputable play house by most, even sacrilegious by some, and was deemed an inappropriate venue to perform the sacred story of the Messiah. Messiah was not a hit.  Enter the Foundling Hospital.

    In 1742, the same year of Messiah's Dublin premier, the philanthropist Thomas Coram, with a royal grant from George II,  had begun the construction of a new public building to establish a charity to care for the babies that would otherwise have been abandoned on doorsteps and rubbish heaps by desperate mothers, usually young and unmarried, who had nowhere else to turn.  One of the founding governors of the Foundling Hospital was artist William Hogarth, an entrepreneur who understood that if the charity were to succeed it needed the public's support.  To this end, he persuaded leading artists to donate works to be displayed at the Foundling Hospital.  By creating what would be the UK's first public art gallery, Hogarth gave the public a reason to visit the Foundling Hospital, and the cause quickly became one of the most fashionable charities in London. 
    George Handel and William Hogarth were friends.  Handel recognized the potential of the Hospital's chapel as a performance space, a space free from the troublesome stigma of a play house.  In 1749 Handel offered to conduct a benefit concert which would include the first performance of Handel's Foundling Hospital Anthem, specially written to appeal to the audience for support toward the work of the Hospital.  As Handel often did, he borrowed from several works - his funeral anthem for Queen Caroline, his oratorio Susanna, and the Hallelujah Chorus lifted directly from Messiah, a work that few of his audience would have ever heard.
    The concert was a huge success.  The following year Handel returned to perform a second benefit concert.  This time he chose Messiah. Thereafter, Messiah was performed each year in the Foundling Hospital chapel to benefit the charity, and Handel conducted or attended every performance until his death in 1759.  These concerts raised huge sums of money for the charity and secured Messiah's place in the nation's affections.   As a final act of generosity, Handel bequeathed a fair copy* (see below) of the Messiah score to the governors of the Foundling Hospital.  This gift enabled the charity to continue staging the benefit concerts and can be seen on display in the Foundling Museum along with Handel's original will.
    The Rockbridge Choral Society, with orchestra and soloists, will end its 2019 season with a performance of Handel's Foundling Hospital Anthem on April 7, 2019 at 7 PM at the Lexington Presbyterian Church.  Please, join us for this anthem of musical and philanthropic history.  It's a rare opportunity for both performers and audience.  Don't miss it!

A Fair Copy*
    The definition of a fair copy is a final, corrected copy of a written work, ie, a final version.  By leaving the Foundling Hospital a fair copy of the Messiah score (see above), Handel insured that Messiah would become an icon of the oratorio repertoire by enabling future singers and players to have his final score for performance purposes.  This gesture also guaranteed that what is Handel's last sacred work would not fall into obscurity as happened with many of his operas even during his lifetime.  Messiah and the Foundling Hospital, through its successor trust, Coram Children's Charities, live on through the creative philanthropy of George F. Handel.  
Queen Anne
Handel Celebrates the Peace of Utrecht
    Also on the program for April 7 are Handel's Utrecht Jubilate Deo and Utrecht Te Deum, composed in celebration of the end of the Spanish War of Succession as codified in the 1713 Treaty of  Utrecht.  Labeled by many historians as the actual first world war, the European conflict also involved Queen Anne's war between North American British and French colonies.  One of the treaty's provisions gave Britain a 30 year monopoly on the slave trade in North America.  History buffs can learn more here.
Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society
Rockbridge Choral Society
P.O. Box 965
Lexington, VA 24450