Handel and his Eighteenth-Century Performers
The Foundling Museum, London
23 November 2015
The Open University, Camden, London
Having already held a conference entitled ‘Performing Handel – Then and Now’, the Institute focused in 2015 on the performers of Handel’s music during the composer’s lifetime. Although the theme allowed for contributions on instrumentalists in Germany, Italy and England, it elicited papers overwhelmingly on singers of Handel’s operas or oratorios in London. This did not, however, restrict the range of topics addressed, which included the social status, education, musical training, quality of sound and technique, experience, career, terms of engagement and specialisms of the singers concerned. There were also discussions of musical ‘direction’, of performance in particular places (Cannons, Ranelagh Gardens) and of the personnel involved in pasticci. The theme attracted so many speakers that, for the first time in its history, the conference was extended over a third full day.