Amid the wealth of Messiah performances this holiday season, the musicians of Ascension and Saint Agnes strive to present Handel’s great work in its most vivid and authentic form lead by Dr. Owen Burdick. A professional chamber choir and orchestra of period instruments convey not only the monumental sweep but the intricacy and subtlety of Handel’s masterpiece—as well as its considerable spiritual power—all within a glorious acoustic that reveals every nuance.
Dr. Burdick’s research has convinced him that Messiah was intended to be performed very much like an opera, with arias and choruses divided and grouped into “scenes” and “acts.” In this form, Messiah takes two hours and 15 minutes to perform—with a single 15-minute intermission, a total of only two and a half hours. The smaller, expert performing forces enable the speed, precision, and visceral impact for which Dr. Burdick’s offerings are renowned.
During his 17-year tenure at Lower Manhattan’s Trinity Wall Street, Dr. Burdick gained international recognition as a foremost authority, performer, and conductor of Messiah. Trinity’s annual performance was hailed as “the best in New York” and “the one to watch!” (New York Times) and “by far the finest performance in this city” (Time Out New York).
Bernard Holland of the New York Times wrote of Trinity’s 2005 performance: “My deepest respect goes to Dr. Burdick, both for the carefully prepared agreements on phrasing and dynamics and for the utter sincerity with which they were realized…all the Messiah outings to come in the next two weeks will have to work hard to match this one.”