National Philharmonic to Present Händel’s ‘Messiah’

By Francisco Salazar

The National Philharmonic is set to present Händel’s “Messiah” for the holiday season. The performances will be held on Dec. 17, 18, and 23 at Strathmore and Capital One Hall.

Conducted by Stan Engebretson, the program features a cast of African American singers alongside the National Philharmonic Chorale. The cast will include soprano Kearstin Piper Brown, mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford, tenor Norman Shankle, and baritone Jorell Williams.

In the spirit of the season, 50 percent of the proceeds from this year’s performances at Strathmore will go toward the 2nd Century Project to raise funds for the restoration of the historic Scotland African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, which was nearly destroyed by a flood in 2019.

The performances will include a pre-concert lecture set by the Scotland A.M.E. Zion Mass Choir and its director Michael Terry.

In a statement, National Philharmonic Music Director Piotr Gajewski said, “We are overjoyed to bring back Messiah—our most popular event each season—and to reach more people in the DMV area by presenting the program at two locations. Several aspects will make these performances even more meaningful than in years past: our fantastic cast of vocal soloists, whom we’re thrilled to showcase; our effort to raise awareness of, and much-needed support for, the Scotland A.M.E. Zion Church; and our learning and engagement activities to educate audiences about the complicated history behind Handel. All of these comprise what I deem to be an appropriate response to the programming of Handel’s masterpiece, and one that we aim to thoughtfully design and bring to our community for seasons to come.”