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Holy Week with The Philadelphia Orchestra: Nicholas McGegan conducts Handel's 'Messiah'

Some of the violins in The Philadelphia Orchestra, pictured in concert in January 2024.
Jeff Fusco
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Some of the violins in The Philadelphia Orchestra, pictured in concert in January 2024.

Join us on Sunday, March 31 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1 as The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert brings you a complete concert performance of Handel’s Messiah from The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2023/2024 season, with the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir and a quartet of stellar soloists, all of whom are making their Orchestra debuts with this concert: soprano Sherezade Panthaki, countertenor Reginald Mobley, tenor Thomas Cooley, and bass-baritone Dashon Burton. Renowned Baroque performance practice specialist Nicholas McGegan is on the podium.

The performance includes all three sections of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. After a dignified Overture, the first part encompasses prophecies of the coming of the Messiah, and the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ. The second deals with his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, concluding with the jubilant “Hallelujah!” chorus. Part III looks forward to the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Messiah encompasses several of the major festivals of the Christian liturgical year, from Christmas to Ascension, but Handel himself associated the work with Holy Week and Easter. His librettist, an Anglican clergyman named Charles Jennens, assembled Messiah’s text from excerpts of the King James Version of the Bible, interspersed with selections from the Book of Common Prayer of 1662, the edition that Handel’s British audiences would have used as their principal Anglican service book. Incredibly, Handel composed this massive work in less than four weeks, in August and September of 1741. To speed up his work, he drew on earlier pieces of his own, and he also borrowed themes from other composers, such as Georg Philipp Telemann and Arcangelo Corelli, to recompose into new material.

The broadcast includes a conversation between guest conductor Nicholas McGegan and WRTI’s Meg Bragle.

Listen to the conversation here:
Listen to the conversation here:


Handel: Messiah

The Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Symphonic Choir

Nicholas McGegan, conductor

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano

Reginald Mobley, countertenor

Thomas Cooley, tenor

Dashon Burton, bass-baritone


Melinda Whiting: Host

Alex Ariff: Senior Producer

Joseph Patti: Broadcast Engineer

Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts every Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your smart speaker.