Bennington Baroque presents 'Handel at Home'

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NORTH BENNINGTON — On March 31, Bennington Baroque will present music by George Frideric Handel, as it might have been heard during his lifetime. The concert takes place at 3 p.m. in the Carriage Barn of the Park-McCullough House.

Using instruments of the period, the group will play music composed for performance at home (a harpsichord suite and a trio sonata), and in addition will recreate domestic versions of arias from the oratorio Samson, first presented at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden on Feb. 18, 1743.

Each year, during Lent, subscribers were promised several performances, introducing a new oratorio and reviving older ones. Samson was performed eight times in February and March; Messiah, also new to Londoners, was heard twice in late March, alongside a few revivals. This pattern, several performances of a new oratorio, increasingly mixed with selected revivals, continued until Handel's death in April 1759.

Although each new oratorio was presented several times in its first season, the public must have craved further opportunities to experience Handel's music, especially at home. It is no surprise that the publisher John Walsh found a ready market for domestic arrangements of Handel's operas and oratorios, alongside his many prints of original compositions for keyboard or small chamber ensemble.

Drawing on Walsh's published volumes, Bennington Baroque will present a selection of music heard in English drawing rooms, entitled, "Handel at Home: Domestic Music in early 18th-century London." Performers include Kerry Ryer-Parke (soprano), Mathieu Langlois (baroque flute), Emily Hale (baroque violin), Andr Laurent O'Neil (viola da gamba), and Sandra Mangsen (harpsichord).

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