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Sestina perform Handel’s masterpiece Theodora with the Irish Baroque Orchestra

Tuesday 3rd April 2018 at 10am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music


This April, Belfast-based early music ensemble Sestina will perform Handel’s oratorio Theodora, supported by funding from their sponsors Exitex Ltd., the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Funding, and partnership funding from the Irish Baroque Orchestra. The ensemble, which has built a strong reputation in recent years for its innovative interpretations of the works of Purcell and Handel among others, will perform the neglected masterpiece in Belfast, Derry-Londonderry and Dublin.

The oratorio, which tells the tale of forbidden love between Christian Queen Theodora and Roman convert Didimus, will feature a stellar cast of talented young voices, with the spotlight firmly on home grown talent.  Local singers Joseph Zubier, Aaron O’Hare, Peter Harris and Laura Lamph will feature as soloists, accompanied by a chorus of 24 young singers from both north and south of the border.

Commenting on the piece, Musical Director Mark Chambers said:

“Handel’s Theodora is about human relationships, and is filled with stories of friendship, sacrifice, love and power.  The choral writing is a tour de force, and the choir have to express a wide range of emotions, from the mocking Roman choruses to the heartfelt, prayerful Christian choruses, which include Handel’s own favourite chorus, ‘He saw the lovely youth’.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work on this music with such an excellent young cast, and to be collaborating with the early music expertise of the Irish Baroque Orchestra, which will undoubtedly enhance the quality of our performance.  We will be singing from memory and presenting a simple concert staging, which we hope will enhance the drama whilst giving sympathetic room for the music to speak for itself.”

CEO of the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Cian Elliott, added,

“Irish Baroque Orchestra are delighted to collaborate with Sestina this 6-8 April.  It is a joy to perform this wonderful music with such talented and energetic singers, who will delight audiences in our performances in Belfast, Derry-Londonderry and Dublin. Mark and Sestina have undertaken some incredible projects over the last number of years and I think Irish Baroque Orchestra will further enhance their great work. This is the start of a fruitful relationship between our organisations and we hope that it will lead to some truly memorable musical experiences to come. We thank our funders The Arts Council of Ireland and Dublin City Council for making this collaboration a reality”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“Sestina has very quickly established a significant profile on the Island of Ireland as a force to be reckoned with in the delivery of high quality early music.  This dynamic ensemble supports exceptional young talent from Northern Ireland, providing valuable opportunities to perform professional repertoire in characteristically unusual spaces.  The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Sestina through National Lottery funding and would encourage everyone to go along these forthcoming performances with the outstanding Irish Baroque Orchestra.”

Tickets for the concert are available from and from the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre. 

Concert dates:

  • Belfast: 6th April, Clonard Monastery, 7.30pm
  • Derry-Londonderry: 7th April, The Glassworks, 7.30pm
  • Dublin: 8th April, Christ Church Cathedral, 8pm



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