FRED PLOTKIN is one of America’s foremost experts on opera and has distinguished himself in many fields as a writer, speaker, consultant and as a compelling teacher. He is an expert on everything Italian, the person other so-called Italy experts turn to for definitive information. Fred discovered the concept of "The Renaissance Man" as a small child and has devoted himself to pursuing that ideal as the central role of his life. In a “Public Lives” profile in The New York Times on August 30, 2002, Plotkin was described as "one of those New York word-of-mouth legends, known by the cognoscenti for his renaissance mastery of two seemingly separate disciplines: music and the food of Italy." In the same publication, on May 11, 2006, it was written that "Fred is a New Yorker, but has the soul of an Italian."
The Ultimate Holiday Music Guide For New Yorkers
Friday, November 25, 2016 - 12:00 AM
For those of you who have been waiting for Messiah, your reward is at hand hallelujah, hallelujah. This much-loved Handel oratorio, which premiered on April 13, 1742, in Dublin, has become standard repertory in the run-up to the Christmas holidays. It is playing in New York and most other places that value culture and tradition.
In this city there will be a mess of Messiahs. That it is ubiquitous makes it no less welcome. In fact, attending more than one performance can allow us to know the piece more intimately rather than treating it as something familiar that must be listened to every year. This article will highlight some of the most appealing Messiah performances, as well as providing some ideas for other festive music in New York between now and then end of the year, many of which are at Carnegie Hall.
Nov. 27 (2 pm): Distinguished Concerts International New York will present the 1959 orchestration of Messiah by Thomas Beecham and Eugene Goossens. Unlike the original (whose orchestration is restrained), it deploys huge instrumental and choral forces and is more opulently symphonic than what Handel and his audiences would have recognized. The concert will be streamed live on the DCINY Facebook page from Carnegie Hall.
Nov. 30 (8 pm): The choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, led by Julian Wachner, perform Messiah at the State Theatre of New Jersey in New Brunswick.
Dec. 2 (7 pm), Dec. 4 (4 pm): A Chanticleer Christmas at the church of St. Ignatius Loyola. This beloved all-male choir performs a program of carols, medieval and Renaissance sacred music and new works.
Dec. 6: The concert I am most sorry to miss this season is “A Night of Inspiration” at Carnegie Hall, in which many joyful noises will be made by a large orchestra led by Ray Chew, a 200-voice mass choir and artists as varied as Yolanda Adams, Lawrence Brownlee, Dionne Warwick and the one and only Pastor Shirley Caesar. There is just no one else like her and I always wonder what would have happened if she could have channeled her talents into opera.
Dec. 10 (1 pm, 3 pm), Dec. 11 (1 pm, 3 pm): The Waverly Consort performs The Christmas Story at the Cloisters. This program tells the familiar story in hymns, processionals, antiphons and mass compositions from the Middle Ages.
Dec. 10 (8 pm): The Cecilia Chorus performs “A Bach Family Christmas” at Carnegie Hall with Magnificat by Johann Sebastian Bach and compositions by some of his other relatives.
Dec. 11 (1 pm): Talented countertenor Jeffrey Mandelbaum, who has sung at the Met, gives a recital of Baroque arias at Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope in Brooklyn.
Dec. 11 (2 pm): The Vienna Boys Choir returns to Carnegie Hall as part of their annual tour of North America. The group traces its roots back to the 1300s and was formally established in 1498 by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. Some 25 percent of its members go on to careers in music, with Franz Schubert being the most famous example. Their New York program includes Strauss, Haydn, Mozart and Britten.
Dec. 11 (3 pm): Chanticleer will perform Vivaldi’s Gloria as part of a program called Heaven & Nature that will include an audience sing-along. The program will be repeated on Dec. 18 at 3 pm at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.
Dec 13, 14, 15, 16, 17: Alan Gilbert leads the New York Philharmonic's performance of Messiah with outstanding soloists: Christina Landshamer, soprano; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Matthew Polenzani, tenor; John Relyea, bass-baritone and the Concert Chorale of New York directed by James Bagwell at David Geffen Hall.
Dec. 15 (8 pm): Messiah was first performed at Trinity Church Wall Street in 1770 and has been a tradition there ever since. I will never forget when the organ pipes wheezed to life on Dec. 16, 2001, following the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
Dec. 15 (8 pm): Joyce DiDonato, one of our most searching and compassionate artists, appears at Carnegie Hall with the musicians of Il Pomo d’Oro, conducted by Maxim Emelyanychev, in a program called “In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music” that will include mostly works by baroque composers. She recently released an CD with this music, but there is nothing like hearing these fine artists live.
Dec. 16 (8 pm), Dec 17 (2 pm): The wonderful film Babe made more than a few people give up prosciutto after they fell in love with the clever sheepherding pig that is its title character. It will be screened at David Geffen Hall with a performance by the New York Philharmonic playing its charming score that draws heavily from the Organ Symphony by Saint-Saëns.
Dec. 17 (1 pm, 3 pm), Dec. 18 (1 pm, 3 pm): The French Play of Adam is the oldest medieval drama in any language and will be performed with music from the Middle Ages at The Cloisters.
Dec. 17 (3 pm): Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra will present a concert of jazz-infused Christmas carols and holiday music at the Fort Washington Collegiate Church. Tickets are $20 for adults and entrance is free for anyone under 18 years of age. Proceeds will be used for community outreach, sending members of the orchestra to schools in upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
Dec. 18 (3 pm): New York Philharmonic Holiday Brass performs a program of festive works at David Geffen Hall.
Dec. 18 (5:30 pm): Chelsea Opera presents Bending Toward the Light: A Jazz Nativity, to be hosted by Charles Osgood at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church.
Dec. 19 (7 pm): The American Boychoir performs a program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a program that includes Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols.
Dec. 21 (8 pm): The 143rd annual Messiah performed by the Oratorio Society of New York, conducted by Kent Tritle. This group has appeared each year at Carnegie Hall since 1891.
Dec. 22 (7:30 pm): Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra present Messiah at Carnegie Hall, also conducted by Kent Tritle.
Dec. 23 (8 pm): Masterwork Orchestra and Chorus perform Messiah at Carnegie Hall.
And to all, a good night.