George Frederick Handel was a charitable man who presented benefit concerts and wrote pieces for fundraising events. The anthem he wrote for the Foundling Hospital in London was first performed in 1750 as the climax of a fundraiser for a charity that served abandoned infants and other children with needs. It takes its opening text from Psalm 41, "Blessed are they that considered the poor and needy," and ends with Handel’s most famous chorus. The Foundling Hospital has evolved over the centuries and its successor organization is known as the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, in honor of the sea captain who founded the hospital. Handel’s Foundling Hospital benefits raised over a million pounds in today’s monetary terms, and the Foundation still performs the anthem every year on his birthday.
The Foundling Hospital Anthem will be the finale for the first Bach @7 concert of the season. The entire Bach @7 season will focus on musical settings of the psalms, by Bach and other composers. The other items on the first program will be a Renaissance Gregorian chant setting of Psalm 21, a setting of Psalm 67 by Charles Ives, and a contemporary setting of the Beatitudes by the popular Estonian composer Avro Part. They are all related to the overall theme of charity.
Bach @7’s conductor, Matthew Glandorf, calls the psalms a “cornerstone of Jewish and Christian worship” that has inspired some of the most important works in the Western musical tradition. The Psalms, Glandorf says, “represent every aspect of the human psyche from thanksgiving to lamentation to words of comfort.”
The Bach @7 series offers Philadelphians a high-level midweek break. The monthly Wednesday night concerts last one hour and they’re followed by a reception in which the audience mingles with the chorus and the instrumentalists. Admission is pay-as-you-wish, making the concerts available to everyone, as George Frederick Handel would have wished.
What, Where, When:
Bach @7 will present Consider the Poor on Wednesday, October 30 at 7pm at St. Clement’s Church, 2013 Appletree Street, Philadelphia. Admission is pay-what-you-wish, $25 suggested. For more information visit online or call (267) 240-2586.