If you’ve had all you can Handel but need a Baroque oratorio to get you in the holiday spirit, look no further than Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. It’s not about competition with Messiah: Bach’s masterpiece stands on its own. Originally composed for his Leipzig congregation in 1734-35, Bach wrote six oratorios to be performed between Christmas and Epiphany. Each oratorio depicts incidents from the gospels of Matthew and Luke in soaring choruses, intimate chorales and solos, all infused with Bach’s deep faith and musical genius.
The Christmas Oratorio gets a rare complete performance in a free two-part concert Saturday presented by the Knox Music Series, with Parts I, II and III at 4 p.m. and Parts IV, V and VI at 7:30 at Knox Presbyterian Church. Veteran conductor Earl Rivers leads the 60-voice Knox Choir, a full baroque orchestra, and an impressive roster of soloists, including Will Compton, Cameo Hughes, Alison Scherzer, Samantha Stein, Debra Van Engen, Theresa Merrill, Jonathan Stinson and Claude Cassion. A catered dinner at 6 p.m. is available for $25 between performances; reservations are required and include reserved seating at either or both performances. It’s a unique opportunity to hear this masterwork in its entirety; the last occasion was in 1992 at the Knox Music Series. 3400 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park. 513-321-2573. www.knox.org/musicseries.php.
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