Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sweet "Sixteen"

News reaches us that Harry Christophers, the new Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society, and his choral group "The Sixteen" (with Christophers at center, above) have just been named Artist of the Year at the Classic FM Gramophone Awards in London. Now celebrating their 30th anniversary, the group, which Christophers founded, specializes in English music from the 16th century. In an embarrassment of riches, Classic FM Magazine has also bestowed on the group their inaugural Artist of the Year Award.

Of course readers of the Hub Review already knew that Christophers was something special in the world of vocal music. The first time I encountered him, way back in 2007, conducting H&H's annual version of Messiah, I wrote:

". . .somehow British conductor Harry Christophers worked a thrilling alchemy with the H&H singers. I may have never heard a chorus find such a precise match between eloquence and passion - somehow the line between word and song simply melted away under Christophers's direction . . . the Christophers version [of Messiah] was something special."

The good news is that the folks at H&H thought so, too, and Christophers is now a fixture on the local scene. The awards for "The Sixteen" not only ratify what was obvious to me two years ago, but also provide a very neat kick-off for H&H's fall season, which commences tomorrow with "Viva La Voce!" featuring the world-renowned countertenor Andreas Scholl. Although I have to admit, you won't hear Harry at the concert; instead, it's being conducted by rising star Jean-Christophe Spinosi, who specializes in Vivaldi (which Scholl will be singing). But you can congratulate Mr. Christophers on his award at a champagne reception following the concert, and that ain't half bad.

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