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The Philadelphia Orchestra on WRTI: Handel's Glorious 'Messiah' with Westminster Symphonic Choir

Celebrate the holidays with The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert on WRTI

WRTI is happy to bring you this festive 2018 concert broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra performing Handel’s Messiah on Sunday, Dec. 19th from 1 to 4 PM on WRTI 90.1, and Monday, Dec. 20th from 7 to 10 PM on WRTI HD-2. Four stellar soloists and the Westminster Symphonic Choir join The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, for this iconic oratorio, first conceived and performed during the 1743 Lenten season in London.

Yannick’s intimate conception of Messiah is in keeping with 18th-century performance practice, which means a much smaller string section, and two oboes, a single bassoon, a pair of trumpets, timpani, organ, harpsichord, four vocal soloists, and mixed chorus.

The soloists for this broadcast are English soprano Carolyn Sampson, equally at home in either the opera house or the concert stage. She has enjoyed notable successes in the UK, and throughout Europe and the U.S. 

You'll also hear French countertenor Christophe Dumaux, who has sung at the major opera houses, and given concerts around the globe with renowned orchestras. He made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2015 in performances of Handel’s Messiah at Verizon Hall with Yannick.

Tenor Jonas Hacker, a 2016 Grand Finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and bass-baritone Philippe Sly, a first-prize winner of the Concours Musical International de Montréal and a grand-prize winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are featured.

The chorus, recognized as one of the world’s leading ensembles, is the Westminster Symphonic Choir, which has recorded and performed with major orchestras under virtually every internationally acclaimed conductor of the past 84 years.

It has been featured in Philadelphia in performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Verdi’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Bernstein’s MASS, and Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who, by the way, studied choral conducting at Westminster Choir College.

Part I of Messiah will be followed by an intermission, and Parts II and III will conclude the performance, after the break.

Carolyn Sampson talks backstage with Susan Lewis.

During intermission, WRTI’s Susan Lewis speaks backstage with Carolyn Sampson and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

This should be the perfect accompaniment to your holiday activities, and we hope you’ll tune in!


Handel: Messiah

Part I


Tenor Accompagnato: “Comfort ye my people”

Tenor Air: “Ev’ry valley shall be exalted”

Chorus: “And the glory of the Lord”

Bass Accompagnato: “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts”

Countertenor Air: “But who may abide the day of His coming?”

Chorus: “And He shall purify”

Countertenor Recitative: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive”

Countertenor Air and Chorus: “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion”

Bass Accompagnato: “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth”

Bass Air: “The people that walked in darkness”

Chorus: “For unto us a Child is born”

Pastoral Symphony

Soprano Recitative: “There were shepherds abiding in the field”

Soprano Accompagnato: “And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them”

Soprano Recitative: “And the angel said unto them”

Soprano Accompagnato: “And suddenly there was with the angel”

Chorus: “Glory to God in the highest”

Soprano Air: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion”

Countertenor Recitative: “Then shall the eyes of the blind be open’d”

Countertenor and Soprano Duet: “He shall feed His flock”

Chorus: “His yoke is easy”


Part II

Chorus: “Behold the Lamb of God”

Countertenor Air: “He was despised”

Chorus: “Surely He hath borne our griefs”

Chorus: “And with His stripes we are healed”

Chorus: “All we like sheep have gone astray”

Tenor Accompagnato: “All they that see Him, laugh Him to scorn”

Chorus: “He trusted in God”

Tenor Accompagnato: “Thy rebuke hath broken His heart”

Tenor Arioso: “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow”

Tenor Accompagnato: “He was cut off out of the land of the living”

Tenor Air: “But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell”

Chorus: “Lift up your heads, o ye gates”

Tenor Recitative: “Unto which of the angels said He at any time”

Chorus: “Let all the angels of God worship Him” 

Countertenor Air: “Thou art gone up on high”

Chorus: “The Lord gave the word”

Soprano Air: “How beautiful are the feet of Him”

Chorus: “Their sound is gone out into all lands”

Bass Air: “Why do the nations so furiously rage together?”

Chorus: “Let us break their bonds asunder”

Tenor Recitative: “He that dwelleth in heaven”

Tenor Air: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron”

Chorus: “Hallelujah”

Part III

Soprano Air: “I know that my Redeemer liveth”

Chorus: “Since by man came death”

Bass Accompagnato: “Behold, I tell you a mystery”

Bass Air: “The trumpet shall sound” David Bilger, trumpet

Soprano Air: “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain”


Carolyn Sampson, soprano

Christophe Dumaux, countertenor

Jonas Hacker, tenor

Philippe Sly, bass-baritone

Westminster Symphonic Choir

Joe Miller Director

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Conductor

Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at, and on the WRTI mobile app! Listen again on Mondays at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2. Listen for up to two weeks after broadcast on WRTI Replay.