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Music Department 12/12/2017

"Europe hails Christmas: Messiah" concert

The Princess of Asturias Foundation Choir will perform Handel’s “Messiah” at the Prince Felipe Auditorium in Oviedo alongside the Principality of Asturias Symphonic Orchestra (OSPA)

The Foundation will make 1,000 free tickets available for the general public, which may be collected from the Auditorium box office from 16th December onwards 


The Princess of Asturias Foundation Choir will perform Handel’s Messiah alongside the Principality of Asturias Symphonic Orchestra (OSPA) at 8:00pm on Friday, 22th December at the Prince Felipe Auditorium in Oviedo.

Under the title “Europe Hails Christmas: Messiah”, the concert will be conducted by Carlos Mena, and will include the participation of soprano María Espada, mezzo-soprano Cristina Faus, tenor Juan Antonio Sanabria and bass Josep-Miquel Ramón. A masterpiece of symphonic-choral music, Messiah has become the most renowned oratorio by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). This piece for soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists, choir of four voices and orchestra was composed between 22nd August and 14th September 1741, with libretto by Charles Jennens following the biblical text. The first public performance of Messiah took place on 10th April 1742, four days before its opening at Dublin’s William Neal Music Hall. The piece is divided into three parts that form the liturgical year, through the different stages in the life and death of Christ.

Collecting tickets
The Princess of Asturias Foundation will make 1,000 free tickets for this concert available to the general public. These may be collected from the Auditorium box office from 16th December onward, from 10:00am to 2:00pm and from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. A maximum of two tickets will be made available per person.  

Carlos Mena
Born in Vitoria-Gasteiz (1971), he studied academically at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Switzerland, where his maestros were Richard Levitt and René Jacobs. His intense concert activity as a countertenor took him to the most prestigious venues in the world: the Teatro Real in Madrid, Teatro Liceu in Barcelona, Konzerthaus and Musikverein in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Staatsoper and Philarmoniker in Berlin, Felsenreitschule and Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg, Barbican Centre in London, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Alice Tully Hall and MET in New York, Kennedy Center in Washington, Suntory Hall and Opera City Hall in Tokyo, Osaka Symphony Hall, Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Concert Hall. He has been conducted by maestros such as Michel Corboz, Jesus Lopez Cobos, Paul Goodwin, Gustav Leonhardt, Sebastian Weigle, René Jacobs, Fabio Biondi, Ion Marin, Juanjo Mena, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Antoni Ros-Marbà, Adrian Leaper, Sir Neville Marriner, Cristoph Coin, Andrea Marcon, among others.

In the field of conducting, before his studies as a singer, he trained with maestros such as Manel Cabero, Pierre Cao, Laszlo Heltay and Erik Ericsson. He is founder and conductor of the Lux Orphei chamber ensemble, with which he has given recitals from the Baroque chamber repertoire on different European stages. In 2009, he created and directed, both artistically and musically, the Capilla Santa María, to mark the reopening of the central nave of Vitoria-Gasteiz Cathedral. The Capilla Santa María has become the main musical activity of the Santa María Cathedral Foundation, with which it works not only in concerts, but also in imparting singing courses and cultural activities with the children’s choir, with the periods of what is called “historical music” always as its musical reference.

As conductor of the Capilla Santa María, he has interpreted the works of important composers, ranging from the Middle Ages (Perotin, Leonin, Machaut) to the Baroque (Dixit Dominus by Handel, Stabat Mater by Pergolesi, Resurrezione by Handel, instrumental concerts by Domenico Scarlatti, Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo by Caldara, Funeral Sentences by Purcell), and including the Renaissance (works by Victoria, Morales, Des Prez, Lassus, etc.), reaping both public and critical acclaim at major national and international venues. Carlos Mena was the creator and musical director of the spectacle for the stage commemorating the centenary of the birth of Juan Hidalgo: “Of the Human and Divine. Anatomy of Passions”, interpreted by the Capilla Santa María, at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, with stage direction by Joan Anton Rechi, which was enthusiastically received by specialized critics. He has conducted Mozart’s version of Messiah, together with the Portuguese Symphony Choir and Orchestra at the Teatro Sao Carlo in Lisbon, and Apollo e Dafne by Handel, in a staged version, together with the City of Granada Orchestra, as well as a concert dedicated to Vivaldi at the Voice Festival in Lofoten, Norway.

Principality of Asturias Symphony Orchestra (OSPA)
The orchestra is made up of musicians from the European Union, Russia, the USA and Latin America. Rossen Milanov has been its principal conductor since September 2012. The OSPA gives over seventy symphony concerts each year, its main activity revolving around the concert seasons held each year in Oviedo, Gijón and Avilés. The OSPA also regularly performs during the Opera Season at the Campoamor Theatre in Oviedo organized by the Asturian Association of Friends of the Opera. It has performed on many occasions at the National Auditorium in Madrid, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, auditoriums in Castellón, Zaragoza, Santiago de Compostela and Extremadura, the Kursaal in San Sebastián and the Baluarte in Pamplona, among other venues. Its most memorable international tour was the one it made to Chile and Mexico in 1996. It returned to Chile two years later and to Mexico in September 2007. During the 2007/08 season, the OSPA also made an extensive tour of the most important cities in China during the celebration of the “Year of Spain in China”. In 2011, it performed before His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican Audience Hall, becoming the only publicly-funded Spanish symphony orchestra to perform in the Nervi Hall. The orchestra’s recording history commenced with works around Asturian themes: Día de fiesta en Asturias, Atardecer and Paisaje Asturiano (Benito Lauret) and La Noche Celta by Ramón Prada. It subsequently recorded several works by Manuel de Falla.

Princess of Asturias Foundation Choir
Founded in 1983 and conducted by José Esteban G. Miranda, the Choir is considered one of Europe’s major amateur ensembles and has achieved considerable international prestige. Jesús López Cobos, 1981 Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts, has been the honorary conductor of the Foundation’s three choirs since their creation, a position he currently shares with Krzysztof Penderecki, who received the same award in 2001. In December 2007, the European Parliament distinguished the Choir with an extraordinary acknowledgement “for its outstanding services to the European Union”. Greatly applauded, it has toured Europe and the Middle East and has given concerts in Russia alongside the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Moscow Virtuosi. One of its most noteworthy performances took place at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1993 alongside the English Chamber Orchestra. It first visited the United States in 2001, being described by the Washington Post’s music critic as “magnificent”. In 2002, the Foundation represented Spain at the Vatican on the occasion of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, offering three concerts in Rome. The Choir gave two historic concerts in New York in October 2003 marking Columbus Day, one in St Patrick’s Cathedral and the other at the Lincoln Center. In 2004, it was invited to participate at the marriage of TRH The Prince and Princess of Asturias, performing during the traditional offering of the bride’s bouquet to the Virgin in the Royal Basilica of Our Lady of Atocha. It has also given concerts in São Paulo (Brazil), Nafplion (Greece), Lisbon and Belém (Portugal), in Mexico City and at the European Parliament in Brussels. In October 2011, the Choir performed Cherubini’s Requiem in C minor alongside the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra under the baton of Neapolitan Maestro Riccardo Muti, 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts. Since its inception, the Princess of Asturias Foundation Choir has been led by outstanding conductors such as Marcus Creed, Friedrich Haider, Arturo Tamayo, Peter Maag, John Neschling, Yuri Bashmet, Alberto Zedda, Paul Mann, Jesús López Cobos, Krzysztof Penderecki, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Neville Marriner, Marzio Conti and Jonathan Webb. It has also collaborated with the Symphony Orchestra of the State of São Paulo, the Vienna Sinfonietta Classical Orchestra, the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, belonging to the National Network of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela (2008 Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts), and the National Autonomous University of Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra (OFUNAM), among others.

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