‘last Wednesday, the celebrated Dr Handell arrived here in the Packet-boat from Holyhead, a Gentleman universally known by his excellent Compositions in all kinds of Musick’

Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 1741

In November 1741 Handel landed in Dublin in the midst of a professional crisis. His last two Italian operas had flopped on the London stage, but in Ireland Handel saw an opportunity for a radical change of direction and he seized it with both hands.

Led by acclaimed Irish bassoonist, harpsichordist and conductor Peter Whelan, Ensemble Marsyas – the dynamic international ensemble whose Handel programme was rapturously received in 2013 – returns to the Festival for a three-concert residency that tells the remarkable story of Handel’s stay in Ireland.

In this first concert the ensemble explores the rich musical milieu into which Handel was thrown. Drawing on first-hand accounts of Handel’s stay and featuring works by great 18th-century composers including Purcell, Corelli and Vivaldi, together with modern-day premieres of works by the leading Irish-based composers of the day, The Arrival of Mr Handel sets the composer’s music in a distinctively Irish context.

The programme culminates in a recreation of highlights of Handel’s first concert in Ireland, featuring the Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate, an exhilarating choral work composed to mark the end of the War of Spanish Succession, together with excerpts from William Boyce’s anthem ‘Blessed is he that Considereth the Sick and Needy’, specially composed for the original concert, which was held in aid of Mercer’s Hospital in Dublin.