Israel in Egypt
Concert Dedication Statement
Handel’s Israel in Egypt tells the story of the ancient Israelites’ escape from bondage in Egypt, their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, and the drowning of the Egyptian army who pursued them.
As we gather here tonight, the modern resonance of this oratorio is all around us. When we planned these concerts over a year ago, we knew that the composer’s vivid depiction of plagues and surging tidal waves echoes the many natural disasters we have seen across the planet in recent years. But what we did not imagine, over a year ago, is that Israel and Hamas would now be at war as we perform Handel’s artistic portrayal of an epic conflict in the Middle East.
Ancient history is full of tales of war and peace. In textbooks, the imagery and events are often presented unemotionally, given their great remove from our current modern times. But tonight we are acutely aware, given recent events in Israel and Gaza, that the violent imagery and setting of Handel’s masterpiece may now strike us with greater impact than at other times. In fact, it challenges us to question whether we are truly as removed as we thought from the violent inclinations of our ancient forebears.
Tonight, in addition to honoring Handel’s masterful musical composition, we invite you to consider the corrosive role that violence still plays in our collective lives – and how we, in our collective humanity, might strive to find alternative paths to freedom and peace. As we listen to Handel’s poignant lament in Act 1, we hold in our hearts all of the innocent lives that have been lost. And as we revel in Handel’s triumphant music in Act 3, we long for a time when such music can celebrate the triumph of our shared humanity.
Apollo’s Fire would like to dedicate this concert to all of those who are suffering in the crisis in Israel and Gaza. We offer this performance with love in our hearts. Thank you for sharing in this emotional journey with us.
October 17, 2023