News & Reviews

News & Reviews


News and Reviews through April 2013


Melinda O'Neal photo conducting"Melinda O'Neal ends Handel Choir tenure with Brahms' German Requiem"

"Melinda O'Neal, in her final concert as artistic director of the Handel Choir of Baltimore, conducted an impressive performance of the Requiem Sunday afternoon that communicated its bittersweet lyricism and the ingenious cohesion of its architectural shape."

"At the same time, the music-making ... emphatically reaffirmed how much O'Neal's nine-year tenure has meant to the development of the choir, one of Baltimore's oldest musical institutions (the current season is its 78th)."

—   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Artsmash, April 17, 2013

Handel Choir of Baltimore PRESS RELEASE April 6, 2013: Arian Khaefi appointed artistic director & conductor of Handel Choir, effective July 1, 2013

"We were deeply honored by the number of highly qualified candidates who were interested in becoming Handel Choir’s next Artistic Director," said Leslie Greenwald, President of the Choir’s Board of Trustees, who served as head of the search committee. "It was a difficult decision, in part because of the incredibly high bar set by Melinda O’Neal. We are very excited to work with Arian in our 79th season." Read the full April 6, 2013 press release.

Handel Choir of Baltimore artistic director Melinda O'Neal to step down

"[Her] nearly decade-long stewardship has helped turn the Handel Choir of Baltimore into a much stronger musical force ... [and her] tenure included successful, imaginative collaborations ..."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Clef Notes, September 20, 2012

Handel Choir of Baltimore PRESS RELEASE Sept 20, 2012: Melinda O'Neal retires as artistic director & conductor of Handel Choir, effective June 30, 2013

O'Neal: "I am so grateful for Handel Choir and the music we've made together. We just clicked."   Read Handel Choir's full Sept. 20, 2012 press release.

Semele: "an impressive achievement for the Handel Choir"
Clara Rottsolk singing with Handel Choir of Baltimore

"The ensemble produced a ripe, smoothly balanced sound,  ... admirable discipline ..., [and] expressive fire.

"... soprano Clara Rottsolk ... soared in the title role."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Clef Notes, April 25, 2012



"An elegant Messiah from Handel Choir of Baltimore"

"The performance exuded an air of elegance and intimacy, a feeling aided by the subtle timbre of the fine period instrument orchestra."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Clef Notes, December 12, 2011

"A memorable performance of Mozart's Requiem from Handel Choir of Baltimore"Handel Choir performs Messiah

"Since Melinda O'Neal took the artistic helm at the Handel Choir of Baltimore seven seasons ago, the ensemble has made consistent and substantial growth. The latest proof came Sunday afternoon ...

"The chorus produced hefty waves of well-focused tone, while always articulating cleanly. ... the orchestra sealed the deal with the kind of playing that could win over period instrument skeptics -- good intonation, abundant color in tone and phrasing. ... bracingly fresh and quite moving."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Clef Notes, May 17, 2011

on Chandos Singers' performance of Purcell's Dido & Aeneas in collaboration with American Opera Theater and Peabody Conservatory Opera

"... the blend, articulation and phrasing were all quite polished. ... O'Neal shaped the score beautifully and drew nuanced playing from the period instrument ensemble. The remarkable eloquence of Purcell's score could be savored at nearly every turn ...."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Clef Notes, February 7, 2011

Handel Choir singing in concert
on Chandos Singers' collaboration with American Opera Theater in Handel's Jephtha

"... a powerful, often provocative presentation of an extraordinary work. ... "

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Clef Notes, May 1, 2010

on Handel Choir's Messiah

"Sensitive singing ... Melinda O'Neal has done wonders with the choir ... [T]he ensemble offers considerable polish and musical responsiveness; texts were sung with admirable articulation.

"O'Neal's introduction of a fine period instrument orchestra into the annual Messiah presentations (and other programs) continues to pay off."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Clef Notes, December 14, 2009

on Handel Choir's performance with Baltimore Chamber OrchestraHandel Choir performs with Baltimore Chamber Orchestra

"Two sacred pieces by Mendelssoh found the BCO and Handel Choir collaborating smoothly, eloquently."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, October 20, 2009


on Handel Choir's O Eternal Fire concert

"Melinda O'Neal has steadily and rapidly honed this formerly uneven ensemble into quite a potent chorus. The Handel and Bach program … found the singers maintaining solid intonation, clarity of articulation and sensitivity to the shape of phrases. There was a telling sign early on of how much O'Neal has done for the group — the firm, colorful way individual voices started off the contrapuntal flurry of the Alleluia in Handel's Coronation Anthem, "The King shall rejoice." That was the kind of detail that would not have been so beautifully realized in the pre–O'Neal days that I experienced. ... a thoughtfully constructed, entertaining program delivered with an informed sense of historic style."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Clef Notes, November 10, 2008

on Handel Choir's collaboration with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra

"Handel Choir artistic director Melinda O'Neal took the podium for the Five Mystical Songs by Vaughan Williams.… O'Neal was adept at bringing out the unmistakable inner glow that animates nearlly all of his music and that flows with particular power in this score.… The chorus, which sounds more confident and cohesive every time I hear it, demonstrated admirable sensitivity."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun Clef Notes, October 20, 2008

Handel Choir in performance
on the top fifteen classical music concerts of the Baltimore/Washington 2006-2007 season

In Tim Smith's review of the 2006-2007 classical music season, the Handel Choir was one of fifteen "highest-highpoints." Smith stated, "the Handel Choir of Baltimore, Pro Musica Rara, Peabody Renaissance Ensemble and Baltimore Baroque Band collaborat[ed] on a vivid, vital performance of Handel's Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, elegantly conducted by Melinda O'Neal."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, June 19, 2007

on Handel Choir of Baltimore's performance of Haydn's The Creation

"The turnout — and the performance level — reaffirmed the strides the ensemble has been making in recent years. … Melinda O'Neal, the choir's artistic director, shaped Haydn's wonderfully descriptive music with an ear for drama and flow. Her choristers were attentive to subtleties of articulation, phrasing and balance. The orchestra of period instruments … played with vibrant color. The guest soloists brought vocal refinement and eloquence of line to their assignments." -

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, May 1, 2007


on Handel Choir of Baltimore's Courtly Splendor concert

Handel Period Instrument Orchestra"an excellent orchestra for Ode to Queen Anne. … Handel Choir director Melinda O'Neal conducted the performance with a natural rhythmic flow and attentiveness to dynamic shading. I don't remember hearing the choir sound so technically poised, so warm and balanced in tone. O'Neal's stewardship, which began only in 2004, has obviously been great for the organization, in its 72nd season."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, March 27, 2007

on Handel Choir of Baltimore's Mozart Birthday Celebration concert

"The Handel Choir of Baltimore ... added its voice to the celebration of Mozart's 250th birthday with an interesting, vibrantly delivered program. … The chorus … delivered a disciplined, smooth-toned account of Mozart's Coronation Mass, with contributions from expressive guest soloists."

"In her second season as artistic director, Melinda O'Neal has been a boon to the ensemble, which had been on shaky musical ground. She essentially rebuilt the choir … and that effort paid off nicely on this occasion."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, March 7, 2006

on Handel Choir of Baltimore's Mozart and Haydn concert

"… in a particularly inspired move, O'Neal decided to supplement the chorus with an orchestra of period instruments, providing a touch of historical coloring and perspective. … O'Neal gave the music a firm, underlying pulse while deftly drawing out contrasts of mood and emphasis."

     —  Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, May 9, 2005

on Handel Choir of Baltimore's Bach and Handel concert

"Melinda O'Neal, in her debut as artistic director and conductor … drew appealing intimacy and clarity from these forces … This was historically informed, but never dry, music-making. O'Neal's sensitive, assured approach yielded its own rewards, and, above all, served notice that the Handel Choir is in very good hands."

     —   Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, December 21, 2004

Photos by Will Kirk

Maryland State Arts Council Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences


All programs of the Handel Choir of Baltimore are made possible by support from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences and the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts.