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Dartmouth News
>  News Releases >   2003 >   April

Dartmouth's Handel Society celebrates song

Posted 04/07/03, by Anita Warren

The Handel Society rehearses for a production of Berlioz's Roméo and Juliette
(photo by Joe Mehling '69)

German composer Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759) earned world renown as one of the greatest composers of the late baroque period. So it is not surprising that a group of students and faculty seeking "to promote the cause of true and genuine sacred music" would name itself after him. The place was Dartmouth. The time was 1807.

Today the Handel Society averages about 100 men and women-Dartmouth faculty, students, staff, and alumni, as well as community members, some of whom travel 80 miles or more to participate. Aspiring singers must audition to become part of the group. Even continuing members must re-audition in alternate years, according to professor of music and Handel Society conductor Melinda O'Neal.

Under O'Neal's leadership since 1979, the Handel Society has sung at Carnegie Hall and at an international choral festival in Toronto, and completed two performance tours in Europe. The singers generally perform once each term on campus. Last term, they sang Hector Berlioz's Roméo and Juliette as part of a series of events given in partnership with Dartmouth's Leslie Humanities Center and music department to celebrate the composer's bicentennial birthday. On May 17, they will sing Johannes Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem.

Jonathan Budzik '03 heard the Handel Society sing when he was a freshman and was so inspired he joined the group the following year. He says his years with the Society have enhanced his experience at Dartmouth. "I have a greater appreciation for many different composers' music that I had never been exposed to before, such as Berloiz. [Also] I've gotten to know several community members who have been mentors to me, sharing with me their life experiences and guiding me in decisions for future plans."

- Anita Warren

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