Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 1, 2008

Handel's Solomon

Berkshire Choral Festival, Sheffield
by Debra Tinkham

The Berkshire School, (a private high school with a student body of 375) nestled at the base of Black Rock, and know for its rattlesnakes, was the setting for the Berkshire Choral Festival’s (BCF) presentation of Georg Friedrich Handel’s pastoral “Solomon”. Completed in less than 40 days, this masterful, Handelian-like work of art went off flawlessly. The performance featured over 200 voices, all gathered for this group performance only six days prior, from 27 states, Canada and Tokyo.

A very cordial BCF Trustee, Wendy Linscott, explained the beginning and short history of the group, often referred to as the “Summer Camp For Singers,” saying that the season itself is only four (short) weeks, and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is the resident orchestra for BCF. In Handel’s case, the SSO was slightly abbreviated in size.

Guest conductor, Kent Tritle is one of America’s top choral conductors. Prior to BCF’s long time founder and conductor, Richard Westenburg’s untimely death, Tritle served as Associate Conductor and Co-Music Director. For the sake of brevity, “such a gentle job he did.”

"Solomon’s" story comes from the Bible, depicting King Solomon and the tumultuous relationship between him and the Queen of Sheba. In the final act, the chorus celebrates the Lord, “whose goodness and wisdom have been shown in Solomon’s realm.” Act III, Scene I, Solomon sings, “Thus rolling surges rise, and plough the troubled main; but soon the tempest dies, and all is calm again.”

The soloists were talented – phenomenal! Pages could be written about their voices, their talent, their finesse. Be sure to catch BCF’s final 2008 concert on August 2 featuring “Water Music from the British Isles,” with John Alexander conducting music of Vaughn Williams, Rutter and Granger.