On December 7, Marin Alsop leads the European premiere of “Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah” at Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Symphony Chorus, London Adventist Chorale and vocal soloists Zwakele Tshabalala and Vanessa Haynes.
It is three decades since Alsop first premiered “Too Hot to Handel” at New York’s Lincoln Center in 1993. With an original concept by the conductor herself and musical arrangements by Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson, the production infuses Handel’s iconic oratorio with jazz, gospel, R&B, soul and pop. Alsop explains:
“The melodies are the same and the text is the same. What’s different about it is the feel, the orchestration, and harmonic additions, but the basic DNA of the piece is identical to Handel’s intent. That was very important to me.”
“Too Hot to Handel” is already a seasonal fixture in the U.S. After a rendition with the Baltimore Symphony at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times reported: “You could hardly have wished for a livelier performance or for a better leader than Ms. Alsop, the rare symphonic conductor entirely at ease in vernacular idioms.”