Georg Friedrich Handel’s oratorio Messiah, crowned by the famous Hallelujah Choir – a magnificent finale in which the joy of resurrection also frames this year’s festival theme, rebirth. Conductor Reinhard Goebel leads the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Choir, and soloists.

The Messiah oratorio is probably to be considered Georg Friedrich Handel’s best-known work, especially outside of England. Messiah is likely one of the world’s most famous and performed oratorios; a brilliant setting of texts from the Old and New Testaments to music, by one of the truly great masters of the baroque era.

Messiah had a triumphant premiere in Dublin in 1742. When it was first performed in London in 1745, the reception was decidedly cooler, which meant that only three concerts of the planned six took place. But when the piece was performed again, having been on ice for four years, it gained ground once more. The year thereafter saw the beginning of the annual Messiah charity concerts, which continued even after Handel’s death. In 1755, Handel’s poor eyesight stopped him from leading the performances, and the baton was handed over to one of the composer’s students. Fate wanted the Messiah concert in London, 1759, to be the final concert Handel attended, eight days before he died.

Handel reworked Messiah a number of times, sometimes to adapt the piece for the various soloists that were at his disposal at the time. Others, such as Mozart, have also reworked the oratorio. Several versions, modified for the tastes of the time, were created in the 1800s, sometimes leading to monumental performances with up to 800 performers. These days, as is the case here, a more ‘Handel-faithful’ version is often performed. A complete Messiah with 68 movements and a concert length of two and a half hours is a rare occurrence.

In the 1750s, Messiah went into the world to convert new concert audiences. The piece spread from England to the European continent and the US. The oratorio, or parts of it, started being performed at concerts, festivals and religious services, and this has continued ever since. A strong tradition of performing Messiah at Christmas – if not the whole oratorio, then at least the now iconic Hallelujah chorus – has also developed.

Karin Ekedahl



dot 2021/2022





The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is a multiple-award-winning ensemble renowned for its high artistic standard and stylistic breadth, as well as collaborations with the world’s finest composers, conductors, and soloists. It regularly tours all over Europe and the world and has an extensive and acclaimed recording catalogue.

Daniel Harding has been Music Director of the SRSO since 2007, and since 2019 also its Artistic Director. His tenure will last throughout the 2024/2025 season. Two of the orchestra’s former chief conductors, Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen, have since been named Conductors Laureate, and continue to perform regularly with the orchestra.

The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra performs at Berwaldhallen, concert hall of the Swedish Radio, and is a cornerstone of Swedish public service broadcasting. Its concerts are heard weekly on the Swedish classical radio P2 and regularly on national public television SVT. Several concerts are also streamed on-demand on Berwaldhallen Play and broadcast globally through the EBU.


32 professional choristers make up the Swedish Radio Choir: a unique, dynamic instrument hailed by music-lovers and critics all over the world. The Swedish Radio Choir performs at Berwaldhallen, concert hall of the Swedish Radio, as well as on tours all over the country and the world. Also, they are heard regularly by millions of listeners on Swedish Radio P2, Berwaldhallen Play and globally through the EBU.

The award-winning Latvian conductor Kaspars Putniņš was appointed Chief Conductor of the Swedish Radio Choir in 2020. Since January 2019, its choirmaster is French orchestral and choral conductor Marc Korovitch, with responsibility for the choir’s vocal development.

The Swedish Radio Choir was founded in 1925, the same year as Sweden’s inaugural radio broadcasts, and gave its first concert in May that year. Multiple acclaimed and award-winning albums can be found in the choir’s record catalogue. Late 2023 saw the release of Kaspars Putniņš first album with the choir: Robert Schumann’s Missa sacra, recorded with organist Johan Hammarström.

Reinhard Goebel works across the world, and specialises in a repertoire from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. During the 20/21 season, he explores lesser-known Beethoven works through his extensive project Beethoven’s World. One result of the project is a recording of five albums with Germany’s leading radio orchestras, where seven of the works are recorded for the first time ever. In May of 2018, Goebel was named Artistic Director of the Berlin Baroque Soloists, a baroque ensemble with members from the Berlin Philharmonic. In 2019, the ensemble was awarded an Opus Klassik, one of Germany’s most prestigious awards, for its recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.

During the 21/22 season, Goebel will visit the radio orchestras in Cologne and Saarbrücken, the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, the New Leipzig Bach Collegium Musicum, the Tapiola Sinfonietta, the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Dalasinfoniettan, for instance. Goebel founded the legendary Cologne Musica Antiqua, which he led for 33 years. Over the past few years, he has received the Bach Medal, an Independent Music Award, and been listed as one of musical history’s 20 best violinists by the BBC Music Magazine.


Julia Kretz-Larsson is the assistant first concertmaster of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2015. She is also a member of the chamber music ensemble Spectrum Concerts Berlin who, in addition to having their own concert series at the Berlin Phiharmonic, has performed at venues including Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She is a former member of both the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and leader of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

She is also an active chamber musician, having performed with Janine Jansen, Isabelle Faust, Cecilia Zilliacus, Torleif Thedéen and others, and played at internationally renowned festivals in Salzburg, Utrecht and Schleswig-Holstein, as well as the Schubertiade in Voralberg and Vinterfest in Mora, Sweden. She has recorded chamber works for labels such as BIS, dB and Harmonia Mundi, and the 2018 album Amanda Maier vol. 3 was awarded a Swedish Grammy Award. As a member of the Julius Stern Piano Trio, she has won prizes at international competitions in Florence, Berlin and Trieste.

Julia Kretz-Larsson teacher violin at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. She is a Berlin native, has studied under Professor Marianne Boettcher, under Professor Thomas Brandis at the Berlin University of the Arts, and in Prague for Josef Suk.

Sopranen Camilla Tilling har i över två decennier framträtt på opera- och konsertscener världen över. Tidiga operaroller som Sophie i Rosenkavaljeren, Pamina in Trollflöjten, Ilia i Idomeneo, Susanna i Figaros bröllop och Zerlina i Don Giovanni gav Tilling engagemang vid scener som the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Opéra national de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Teatro alla Scala och Metropolitan, New York. Bland senare roller kan nämnas Guvernanten i The Turn of the Screw, Euridice i Orfeo ed Euridice, Donna Clara i Dvärgen, Greta i Hans och Greta, l’Ange i Franciskus av Assisi, Blanche i Karmelitsystrarna och Mélisande i Pelléas och Mélisande.

Bland Tillings nyligen genomförda engagemang på konsertscenen kan nämnas Bernard Haitinks sista konsert vid Concertgebouw, Brahms Requiem med Birmingham Symphony Orchestra och Mirga Gražinytė Tyla, Dutilleuxs Correspondances med Los Angeles Philharmonic och Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mahlers fyra med Orchestre de Paris och Thomas Hengelbrock samt Bergs Sieben frühe Lieder med både Sydney Symphony Orchestra och Christoph von Dohnányi samt London Symphony Orchestra och François-Xavier Roth. Tilling har även turnerat med Peter Sellars uppsättningar av Matteuspassionen och Johannespassionen. Bland höjdpunkter säsongen 2022/2023 kan nämnas Griegs Peer Gynt med Cincinnati Symphony, Irgen-Jensens Japanischer Frühling med Karajan-Akademie of Berliner Philharmoniker samt Bachs Matteuspassion med Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

The Swedish mezzo-soprano Kristina Hammarström is a much sought-after concert and opera singer and she regularly appears in opera houses, concert halls and festivals throughout Europe and Asia. Assignments in 2019/2020 included Caino in Scarlatti’s Il primo Omicidio at Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin, Opéra National de Paris and Concertgebouw. She also sang Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina at the Salzburg Festival, Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and did concerts in Copenhagen with music by Wilhelmine of Prussia and Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

Hammarström’s operatic repertoire includes an impressive number of roles in baroque operas as well as Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther, Octavian in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, Arsace in Rossini’s Semiramide, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Marguerite in Berlioz’ La damnation de Faust, Cherubino in Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro – a role in which she made her Paris Opera debut – Cecilio in Lucio Silla, the title role in Ascanio in Alba and Idamante in Idomeneo, just to mention a few. Her concert repertoire includes pieces as Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, Rückertlieder, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Das Lied von der Erde, Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Symphony No. 9, Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri, as well as a large number of masses and oratorios.

Den brittiske tenoren Andrew Staples har framträtt med dirigenter som Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Harding och Yannick Nézet-Séguin och orkestrar som Berlinerfilharmonikerna, Bayerska radions symfoniorkester, London Symphony Orchestra och Wienerfilharmonikerna. Han har gjort flera hyllade framträdanden i Berwaldhallen, exempelvis i Bachs Matteuspassion med Alan Gilbert 2019, i Elgars Gerontius dröm med Daniel Harding hösten 2019, i Mozarts Don Giovanni sommaren 2020 och i Bachs Johannespassion våren 2021.

Som operasångare gjorde Staples 2019 en uppmärksammad debut vid Metropolitan i New York som Andres i Bergs Wozzeck. En månad senare rönte han nya framgångar när han på kort varsel hoppade in i Mahlers Das Lied von der Erde med Gustavo Dudamel och New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Staples gästar regelbundet Royal Opera House i London där han bland annat sjungit Tamino i Trollflöjten, Flammand i Capriccio, Narraboth i Salome och Artabanes i Artaxerxes.

Under säsongen 2023/24 har Staples gästat bland annat Orchestre de Paris, Gürzenich Orchester, San Francisco Symphony, Müncher Philharmoniker, Stavanger Symphony och Orquesta de Valencia. Tillsammans med Les Siècles och Francois-Xavier Roth har han under våren 2024 turnerat Europa, samt gjort inspelningar av Das Lied von der Erde och har dessutom framträtt i flera konsertanta versioner av bland annat Mozarts Idomeneo, Beethovens Fidelio och Strauss Ariadne.

Andrew Staples har spelat in flera stora dramatiska verk på skiva, däribland John Adams opera Doctor Atomic, Edward Elgars Gerontius dröm och Bohuslav Martinůs oratorium Gilgamesheposet. Staples är även verksam som regissör och har bland annat gjort uppsättningar av Così fan tutte och La bohème i London, Händels Dido and Aeneas på en dansklubb i Berlin med Kiez Oper, samt en produktion för Choir of London där Brittens körklassiker Hymn to St Cecilia interfolieras med verk av palestinska flyktingar.

Matthew Rose studied at the Curtis Institute of Music before becoming a member of the Young Artist Programme at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In 2006 he made an acclaimed debut at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Bottom in Brittens A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for which he received the John Christie Award, and he has since performed at opera houses throughout the world. He has sung under the baton of Sir Colin Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Andrew Davis, Vladimir Jurowski, Sir Charles Mackerras, Yannick Nézet-Seguin and Antonio Pappano and is already a critically acclaimed recording artist, winning a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for Ratcliffe/Billy Budd. Other recordings include Winterreise with pianist Gary Matthewman and Schwanengesang with Malcolm Martineau (Stone Records).

Highlights of the 2020/21 season include Pulcinella with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Beethoven 9 with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Vasily Petrenko and The Creation with Louis Langrée and Cincinnati Symphony. On the operatic stage Matthew sings Gremin in Eugene Onegin at Garsington Opera.


Chief conductor of the Jeune Choeur de Paris, he started a collaboration with the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart in 2013 (including a recording of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé), and also works regularly with the Chœur de Radio-France and the Choeur Accentus since 2014, for tours, radio performances, recordings, preparations and A Cappella concerts. He collaborates with many personalities, such as Sir Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniele Gatti, Louis Langrée, Stéphane Denève, Daniel Harding, Laurence Equilbey, L. G. Alarcon… He has also conducted the WDR Rundfunkchor in 2016. In July 2016, he has prepared both the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart and the NDR Chor for Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette. In 2017, he has participate to the opening of the Seine Musical conducting the choir accentus and in 2018, he starts a collaboration with the Croatian Radio Choir. Korovitch works for many festivals: the Mozartwoche in Salzburg, Recontres Musicales d’Evian, the Festival de Radio-France in Montpellier or the festival Mozart in New York.


Approximate timings

When Georg Friedrich Handel created Messiah, he had lived in London for almost 30 years, and his Italian operas, for instance, had brought him great success. But as interest in the genre waned, and intrigue between the London theatres increased, he eventually gave up, and introduced the English oratorio, a type of work that would grant him just as much success. Messiah is, in terms of its structure, not completely unlike an opera with its introductory Sinfonie, ‘overture’, and its three parts, like acts. But there are no sung roles – the piece is more of a comment on Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, than a dramatization of Jesus’ life.

It took just over three weeks for Handel to compose the music for Messiah. Even though he borrowed from himself – which was praxis at the time – and reused many movements from previous compositions, writing such an extensive work in so short a time is impressive. Librettist Charles Jennens disagreed, however, feeling that it was careless and lazy not to put more time into setting his compiled text to music. Jennens had long supported Handel financially, and written librettos to many of his oratorios, and with time, a friendship had grown between the two, which now hit a big bump. The relationship did not  exactly become less strained when Handel decided to do the original performance of Messiah in Dublin rather than in London, having been invited by the Viceroy of Ireland to arrange a series of charity concerts.

In April 1742, Messiah was performed for an audience that witnessed a tremendously successful premiere.

Karin Ekedahl