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The Baroque Arts Chamber Orchestra of Washington
[[logo with "BACO" in center]]
1971-72 Season
William Radford-Bennett
Music Director & Principal Conductor

The D.C. Department of Recreation
The Baroque Arts Society

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Washington, D.C., Thursday, December 7, 1972

Messiah Glows in Right Places
Special to The Star-News

Norman Rockwell would have loved it. This was a performance of Handel's "Messiah" straight out of one of his Saturday Evening Post covers.

No one minded that the chimes fell over during one number. We pretended to be deaf when part of the chorus chairs crashed down as an unexpected coda to a tenor solo. What mattered was that most all of Rockville gathered last night at Montgomery College to sing or listen to that durable masterpiece.

William Radford-Bennett led the MCR Orchestra, combined choirs and soloists, with more than 140 singers onstage and an ensemble of about 55 players. The college venture met the challenge head-on. And what emerged was the spirit of the music, intact and shining through acres of earnest playing, and despite some vile solo singing. 

MUCH WAS MADE in the elaborate program notes about avoiding "churchiness" and "religiosity" found in some performances. The best way to avoid gloom is with glow, just the opposite of the plodding tempos we heard so often. On the whole, Radford-Bennett's work with the orchestra was commendable, for he has a way of getting
MCR Orchestra, William Radford-Bennett, conductor. Soloists: Lois Darling, Ellen Buckner, sopranos; Joy McLean, alto; Gerald  Muller, tenor; Garfield Swift, baritone; Michael Galloway, trumpet; Eleanor Flottman, harpsichord and organ continuo. Montgomery College Chorus, Gerald Muller, director; Rockville Community Chorus, Josephine Pierson, director. At Montgomery College, Rockville Campus. Messiah (abridged), Handel.
players to rise above their natural abilities. 

The major items brought their best work. Most audiences expect - and invariably get - a thrill from the "Hallelujah Chorus." The soprano intonation in "For Unto Us A Child Is Born" and the solid work of the tenor and basses in "Behold the Lamb of God" made a greater impression.

BOTH TENOR Gerald Muller and baritone Garfield Swift proved pace setters with their opening solos. Muller's supremely relaxed "Comfort Ye" and "Ev'ry Valley" were models any singer should follow. Swift's mature artistry elevated "The Trumpet Shall Sound" to the highlight of the evening. His limitless breath control and excellent diction brought memorable collaboration from trumpeter Michael Galloway. 

The most poignant moment came when alto Joy McLean leaned into the hushed phrases of "He Is Despised" to remind us just how much an evening with Handel and such a fine singer make life just a little bit easier. 

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^[[Joy to your soul]]

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