The more things change, the more they stay the same. The war milieu of Handel’s oratorio “Judas Maccabeaus” was Syria vs. Israel in biblical times, and things haven’t changed much since with Syria backing the recent Lebanese-based Hezzbollah in its recent conflict with Israel. Handel was practical enough to see resonances of the oratorio’s hero with a British military commander of his own time, an enormously clever way of popularizing the work. No less significant was Handel’s extraordinary use of the chorus as a part of the action, which made audiences resonate with the action as well. Amazingly, in three-and-a-half decades, this Handel bread-and-butter work, with its familiar and stirring choruses, has never been presented in its entirety by Music of the Baroque, but here it is at last to open the group’s twenty-sixth season with soprano Ellen Hargis, mezzo-soprano Laura Pudwell, tenor Steven Tharp, bass-baritone Stephen Morscheck and conductor Nicholas Kraemer—who led the company’s brilliant “St. John Passion” last season—conducting the Music of the Baroque Chorus and Orchestra and the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus. (Dennis Polkow)
September 17 at First United Methodist Church, 516 Church, Evanston. 7:30pm. $35-$55.