Handel Society presents 'Messiah'

The Handel Society of Dartmouth College is the oldest town-gown organization in the country. Formed in 1807, the group includes Dartmouth student body, faculty and staff and members of the community. It performs Handel’s “Messiah” this weekend in Hanover.

HANOVER — Handel’s “Messiah:” it’s all about Christmas, right? How many times have you heard its famous “Hallelujah Chorus” in halls decked in green and red?

But Handel would beg to differ. The proper season for this beloved oratorio is spring. Recounting through song the life of Jesus Christ, “Messiah” culminates in the Easter story, in which Christ returns to save souls. Its 1741 debut in Dublin took place in April, and it literally redeemed suffering people, raising money to pay the debts of 142 people in debtors’ prisons.

The Handel Society of Dartmouth College returns “Messiah” to its spring beginnings at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Hopkins Center for the Arts’ Spaulding Auditorium on campus. Nationally known soprano Sarah Moyer, countertenor Doug Dodson, tenor Brian Giebler and baritone David Tinervia, will join the 100-member chorus and a full orchestra.

Composer George Frideric was born in 1685 in Halle, in what is now Germany, and died in 1759 in London.

Tickets to the performances are $10 to $25, and $5 for Dartmouth students. For information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 646-2422.

These performances of the Handel Society’s signature work also make up the final program directed by Robert Duff, the society’s conductor and artistic director for the past 15 years. Duff will leave at the end of June to become director of music at Saint Cecilia Parish in Boston, a musical congregation with three choirs, a concert series and partnerships with Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory and Boston University. This complements Duff’s other Boston-area job as director of choral programs at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. The Hop will name an interim director for the coming season and embark on a search for Duff’s successor.

Founded in 1807, the Handel Society is the oldest town-gown society in the United States devoted to the performance of choral-orchestral major works. It features 100 members drawn from the Dartmouth student body, faculty and staff and the Upper Valley community.