University will host Handel festival

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 Society conference on Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 21-23. This is the second time the American Handel Society has held its biennial festival at Princeton; the first was in 2007.

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.

"I'm particularly thrilled that our students can meet many of the internationally renowned Handel scholars whose work we have studied. We also have the opportunity to showcase our superb chamber choir, directed by Gabriel Crouch, and welcome back one of our most illustrious alums, Anthony Roth Costanzo, who will speak on a panel on Saturday, Feb. 23, on the Metropolitan Opera's production of 'The Enchanted Island,' in which he sang," Heller said.

The 2013 festival will feature three concerts of Handel's works performed by musicians affiliated with the University, two conference events and an exhibition.

• The English Concert will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. The program will include "Concerto Grosso Op. 3 No. 2 in B-flat Major, HWV 313" and "Water Music Suite" (selections from Suites No. 1, 2 and 3). Steven Zohn of Temple University will give a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m., free to ticketholders.

• The Princeton University Chamber Choir and guest choir Kantorei, from Westminster Choir College, will perform Handel's "Let God Arise" and "Dixit Dominus," as well as Scarlatti's "Stabat Mater" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in Taplin Auditorium, Fine Hall.

• The Princeton University Glee Club will perform "Israel in Egypt" at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 3, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. This oratorio, introduced in 1739, has achieved popularity second only to "Messiah" in Handel's canon.

Tickets for the concerts may be purchased online through University Ticketing or by calling 609-258-9220.

The festival also will include a special exhibition in the 18th-Century Room of the Firestone Library, featuring the library's newly acquired copy of Handel's three-act opera "Berenice" (1737). It is a scribal copy, copied by a contemporary Handel copyist from the composer's autograph manuscript. The manuscript will complement the library's James S. Hall Collection of George Frideric Handel in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and is on view through March 4, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and weekends from noon to 5 p.m.

Handel Society members will attend a conference on campus that includes two events that are free and open to the public. A lecture by Reinhard Strohm of the University of Oxford titled "Handel: Opera and Ritual" takes place at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in McCormick Hall, Room 101. A panel discussion "The Baroque Pasticcio in the 21st Century: The Metropolitan Opera's "'Enchanted Island,'" will be held at 4:10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, in McCormick Hall, Room 101. The panelists include Anthony Roth Costanzo, a 2004 Princeton alumnus and internationally renowned countertenor who sang the roles of Ferdinand and Prospero in the new Met production, which opened Dec. 31, 2012.

For a complete list of events or for more information, visit the festival website or contact Heller at 609-258-1906.