Handel’s famous oratorio Messiah is probably the most performed choral work in the world and certainly the most popular. With music by George Frederic Handel and original words in English compiled from The King James Bible by Charles Jennens, Messiah is perhaps the most musically comprehensive retelling of the story of Christ.
Messiah was completed in 1741 and was premiered in Dublin, Ireland in April 1742 in a private house with a small chorus and orchestra. On 23rd March 1743, it received its London premiere at the Covent Garden Theatre (with a slightly dampened reception as some believed the content matter was too sacred to be performed in a theatre) and is believed to have been attended by King George ll. Tradition has it that King George stood for the famous Hallelujah Chorus as a mark of respect for his own King – Our Lord & Saviour, prompting everyone else to stand in the king’s presence. Standing for The Hallelujah Chorus remains, especially in England, a tradition to this very day.
Often presented in highlights, the Grace 2016 production will present “Messiah” in its entirety and aims to replicate as closely as possible those early London performances. It is slated to be quite possibly the finest ever performance of Messiah in Malaysia and a treat not to be missed. The “Handel Festival Singers”, the specialist baroque “Orchestra 1685” and four of the region’s top choral soloists have been drawn together and will be conducted by award winning British conductor and composer Paul M Baker.
Venue | Grace Convention Centre, Petaling Jaya
Date | 18 & 19 March 2016
Time | 8 PM
Ticket Price | RM 48
Paul M Baker
Paul M Baker is a well-known and highly respected figure within the Malaysian music, musical theatre and music education sector as a conductor, composer, performer and educator in addition to his work in the business side of the Malaysian music industry.
This full length performance of Handel’s Messiah is Paul’s second in Malaysia. The first was in 2009 at KLPac receiving both critical and audience acclaim.
His early musical life started in Barnet Church Choir which he joined at the age of seven and left at 14 having obtained the Royal School of Church Music’s most prestigious prize – The Saint Nicholas Award. At the age of 13, Paul played the title role of “Oliver” in London and has continued to combine his musical and theatrical experiences ever since.
At 16 Paul joined the Royal Marines School of Music studying French horn and Piano and spent the next ten years with Royal Marine Bands playing at state functions, concerts and touring the world. He participated in tours aboard HM Royal Yacht Britannia where he played for Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and others in the British Royal Family.
Upon leaving the Marines he continued his career as a freelance French horn player, keyboardist and conductor and has since performed with many leading orchestras including The London Symphony, The Royal Philharmonic and the Welsh National Opera and has played in touring versions of major West End Musicals such as Les Miserables, The Sound of Music and Miss Saigon.
Paul musically directed his first stage musical, Fiddler On The Roof at the age of only 22. He has since been Musical Director for over 30 stage musicals and oratorios.
Within the contemporary music scene as horn player, keyboardist and musical director, He has worked with well-known artists such as George Michael, Michael Jackson, Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey.
Following his move to Malaysia in 2004, Paul has worked with artists such as Zainal Abidin and Sheila Majid and has given a number of solo french horn recitals, performed with the Malaysian National Symphony Orchestra and directed many orchestral, chamber, choral and musical theatre productions.
In September 2009, Paul was appointed founding Principal of the new Bentley Music Academy in Mutiara Damansara. Thereafter he founded the Kuala Lumpur Youth Jazz Orchestra (KLYJO), the Harmonia Choir and Bentley Repertoire Orchestra, with whom he conducted numerous concerts.
As a composer, Paul has written many Christmas carols, hymns, chamber works, incidental music for plays etc but is perhaps best known in Malaysia for his award winning musical The Rising Son. A story of hope and forgiveness set in Japanese Occupied Perak. It premiered at Grace Convention Centre in April 2014, to much ovation and was subsequently voted the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 Boh Cameronian Arts Awards for Best Malaysian Musical of 2014.
More recently in November 2015 Paul saw his Symphonic Suite for Wind Band Taiping, premiered in Portsmouth, England which was commissioned by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. Attended by many native Malaysians and the First Secretary to the Malaysian High Commission in the UK, Taiping was extremely well received and looks set for a Malaysian premiere in 2016.
Work in progress includes a new musical, Kosher Nostra, which charts the rise and fall of the Jewish Mafia in New York from the 1920’s to the 1960’s and loosely mirrors stories taken from the life of King David, a Requiem Mass for soloist’s, choir and orchestra and a song for mixed choir commissioned by the Taiping Heritage Society and St Georges School, Taiping. Taiping Rain Town Song will be performed for the first time in Taiping on 3rd April 2016.
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