University will host Handel Festival, April 19-21

International scholars and performers dedicated to honoring the life and works of Baroque composer George Frideric Handel will gather at the University for the American Handel Festival and Meeting on Thursday through Saturday, April 19-21. This is the first time the American Handel Society will hold its biennial festival at Princeton.

This year's event will be presented in conjunction with the Department of Music and has been organized by Wendy Heller, associate professor of music and board member of the American Handel Society. The late J. Merrill Knapp, professor emeritus of music, founded the festival in 1986 with Howard Serwer and Paul Traver of the University of Maryland, where the event previously was held.

"Society members from all over the world will be coming to campus for the festival," said Richard Tang Yuk, associate director of the Program in Musical Performance. "We're very excited to have the opportunity to host such a unique event and to showcase some of the musical programs here at Princeton."

The 2007 festival will feature three concerts of Handel's works performed by musicians affiliated with the University.

  • The Richardson Baroque Players will present "Britannia's Invitation" at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 19, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. The program will include excerpts from "Messiah," "Alcina" and "The Beggar's Opera" and a performance of Handel's organ concerto.
  • University organist Eric Plutz will perform a free organ recital of Handel's works at 6 p.m. Friday, April 20, in the University Chapel.
  • Handel's rarely performed "Hercules" will be presented at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21, in Richardson Auditorium. Tang Yuk will conduct the performance featuring mezzo-soprano Deanne Meek and the University Glee Club. David Ross Hurley, professor of music at Pittsburg State University, will give a free pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. on the characters in this Handel oratorio.

Tickets for the April 19 and April 21 concerts may be purchased online through University Ticketing or by calling (609) 258-5000.

The festival also will include a special exhibition of the James S. Hall Collection of Handel Manuscripts from the University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Mendel Music Librarian Paula Matthews mounted the display of Handel manuscripts, letters and other memorabilia that will be in the 18th Century Room in the Main Gallery of Firestone Library. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and will be on view from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Thursday and Friday, April 19-20, and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22.

Handel Society members also will attend a conference on campus that includes a lecture by music critic Andrew Porter and panel discussions on the music of Handel and his contemporaries. Conference paper and panel sessions are open to the public for a fee of $25 per day. Members of the public should register to attend by contacting Andrea Stearly in the Office of Conference and Event Services at (609) 258-1741 or

For a complete list of events or for more information, visit the festival website or contact Tang Yuk at (609) 258-4238.