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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Área Musical


“Europe hails Christmas: The Messiah” concert

The European Parliament distinguished the Choir with an extraordinary acknowledgement in 2007 for “their outstanding contribution to bolster European integration”.

2011 “Europe hails Christmas: The Messiah” concert. ©FPA

The Prince of Asturias Foundation Choir will perform Handel’s Messiah alongside the Principality of Asturias Symphonic Orchestra (OSPA) at 8pm this coming Friday, 21st December at Oviedo Cathedral. This 27th edition of the concert is to be conducted by Maestro Juanjo Mena. Admission will be free until all seats are taken.

Under the title “Europe Hails Christmas: The Messiah, the soloists taking part will be Raquel Lojendio (soprano), Gustavo Peña (tenor), Carlos Mena (countertenor) and Jochen Kupfer (baritone).

The Messiah, a masterpiece of symphonic-choral music, 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 Jennes following the biblical text. The first public performance of The Messiah was held 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.

Juanjo Mena is one of the most renowned Spanish conductors on the international scene. Chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Bergen Filharmoniske Orkestra, he has been chief conductor and artistic director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra (1999-2008) and principal guest conductor of the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa (2007-2010).

He has conducted prestigious orchestras, such as the Oslo Filharmonien, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Scottish Symphony, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Dresdner Philharmonie and major symphony orchestras in the United States: Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, Cincinnati and Los Angeles Philharmonic, among many others. He has worked with renowned soloists such as Frank Peter Zimmermann, Lang Lang, Fazil Say, Joshua Bell, Mischa Maisky, Till Fellner, Julian Rachlin, Steven Isserlis, Rudolf Buchbinder, Viktoria Mullova, Yo-Yo Ma and Truls Mork, to name but a few.

As an opera conductor, he has conducted great works of the romantic repertoire, such as Der fliegende Holländer, Salome, Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos, Duke Bluebeard and Erwartung, as well as productions like Eugene Onegin in Genoa, Le nozze di Figaro in Lausanne and Billy Budd in Bilbao. Juanjo Mena is currently making a series of recordings with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

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