Boston Baroque Performs ‘The Messiah’

A Grammy-nominated Boston orchestra is bringing an uplifting classical piece to life with period instruments.

Boston Baroque is performing Handel's "The Messiah," which features the famous Hallelujah chorus.

"Messiah is a huge tradition in the English-speaking world," said conductor Martin Pearlman. "It became a Christmas piece gradually over the course of the 19th century and 20th century."

Pearlman has been Boston Baroque's conductor for more than 40 years. In the 1980's, he set forth to reinvent "The Messiah" by making it true to the original.

"It was very exciting. I remember the New York Times saying it was a ‘Messiah’ that would have shocked your grandparents," Pearlman said.

The ensemble uses a smaller chorus and orchestra with period instruments, either originals or reproductions of those played during Handel's time.

"The winds are very different. They don't have that complicated key system you see on that modern oboe, modern flute," Pearlman explained. "The trumpets are long instruments with no valves for fingers. You have to get all the notes with your fingers."

Pearlman said the period style adds to the excitement of the performance.

"I don't think of it as an antiquarian thing at all to go back to period instruments," he said. "I think of it as something modern, something that we want to hear today."

This is a big week for Boston Baroque. The ensemble received two Grammy nominations.. for Best Opera Recording and Best Engineered Album, Classical.

You have two chances to catch their performance of "Messiah." Friday, Dec. 11 and Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall. Click here for more information.

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