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Music Department 12/10/2019

Extraordinary Christmas Concert

The Princess of Asturias Foundation Choir is to perform excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah” and other works by the composer at the Prince Felipe Auditorium, 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 14th December onwards


The Princess of Asturias Foundation Choir will give its Extraordinary Christmas Concert at 8:00pm on Friday, 20th December at the Prince Felipe Auditorium, Oviedo, alongside the Principality of Asturias Symphonic Orchestra (OSPA) under the baton of Benjamin Bayl.

In addition to excerpts from Messiah, this year’s repertoire will include other compositions by Handel, such as Water Music Suite No. 1, the Allegro movement from the Concerto Grosso, Op. 3 No. 2 and the Overture from An Occasional Oratorio.

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) is considered one of the foremost figures in the history of music, especially the Baroque period. His musical legacy, a synthesis of the German, Italian, French and English styles of the first half of the 18th century, includes works in practically all the genres of his day, with a special predilection for opera and oratorio, which he helped bring to a period of great splendour.

A masterpiece of symphonic-choral music, Messiah has become the most renowned of Handel’s oratorios. 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 work 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 free tickets for this concert available to the general public, which may be collected from the Prince Felipe Auditorium box office from 14th December onward between 10am and 2pm and between 4pm and 8pm. A maximum of two tickets will be made available per person.  

Benjamin Bayl
Benjamin Bayl is Co-Founder and Guest Director of the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra. Holding both Dutch and Australian nationality, he was the first Australian Organ Scholar of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. He has been assistant conductor to Ivan Fischer, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Richard Hickox, Harry Christophers and Ivor Bolton. He has worked with orchestras such as the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Malaysian Philharmonic, the Bochumer Symphoniker, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra and Pomeriggi Musicali and the Principality of Asturias Symphony Orchestra (OSPA). He recently made his conducting debut in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with Collegium Vocale Gent and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.

In the realm of opera, he has conducted at the Wiener Staatsoper, Theater an der Wien/Kammeroper, Staatsoper Berlin, Opera Vlaanderen, Royal Danish Opera, Den Norske Opera, Norrlandsoperan, Opera Australia, Budapest State Opera and Opera de Oviedo. In the near future, he is to work with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, at the Warsaw Chopin Festival, in a Beethoven cycle with the Hannover Band and will conduct Mozart’s Magic Flute with the Norrlandsoperan Symphony Orchestra, Sweden.

Principality of Asturias Symphony Orchestra (OSPA)
The OSPA came into being in 1991 under the auspices of the Principality of Asturias Regional Government. His Majesty King Felipe VI is its Honorary President. It is attached to the Regional Ministry of Culture, Language Policy and Tourism as an Autonomous Body.

Some of the most important soloists and conductors on the international scene have performed with the orchestra, in addition to its principal conductors: Jesse Levine, Maximiano Valdés and Rossen Milanov. The OSPA carries out a great deal of educational and social work in Asturias, over and above its subscription seasons in Gijón and Oviedo and its customary visits to Aviles and other towns in Asturias. It has performed at the most important auditoriums and venues in Spain, as well as in festivals such as the Santander Festival, Granada Music and Dance Festival and Alicante Contemporary Music Festival, as well as in Cuenca Religious Music Week and Bilbao Music Festival. It has also toured Mexico, Chile, China and Bulgaria, in addition to the concert it gave before His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, under the patronage of the María Cristina Masaveu Peterson Foundation.

The orchestra has made numerous recordings, besides recording a number of film soundtracks, such as the one it recorded for Marrowbone, with music by Fernando Velázquez. It has also recorded with Ning Feng as soloist.

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, was honorary conductor of the Foundation’s three choirs since their creation, a position he shared with Krzysztof Penderecki, who received the same award in 2001. In December 2007, the European Parliament distinguished the Choir via 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).

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